Social media is flooded with users encouraging you to try a new health and wellness hack, but how many of these trends are scientifically backed?
At the end of February 2023, the wellness phrase ‘Do-it-yourself biology’ began to trend, with US Google searches peaking by 316%.
Nicotine pouch enthusiasts, Snusboss, predict ‘Do-it-yourself biology’, also commonly referred to as ‘Biohacking’, will be one of the hottest trends for the 2024.
A spokesperson for Snusboss says, “Biohacking refers to the practice of making changes to one’s biology, typically through self-experimentation and the use of technology, to enhance physical and cognitive abilities, optimize health, and achieve personal goals.
“Currently #biohacking has 791 million views on TikTok, and continues to gain popularity, particularly with Millennials and Generation Z who are becoming more interested in the scientific research behind their health and wellbeing and are also open to experimenting with new techniques.
“Social media has always greatly influenced how people live their lives. However, this new practice of self-control is encouraging people to not be influenced externally and use a combination of biology, technology, and personal experimentation to improve their overall wellbeing.”
Below, the experts share ten examples of ‘biohacking’ and how to incorporate them into your daily lifestyle ahead of the New Year.
1) Ice cold plunge
Cold plunging is an aspect of cold-water therapy or cold-water immersion, which is involves immersing oneself in cold water temperatures.
It is recommended to complete 11 minutes cold-water exposure per week, which can be broken into three minutes per session.
Studies suggest 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius) to be an optimal temperature range for cold plunges focused on reducing muscle soreness.
Doing this will also help to reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and enhance recovery after exercise. It is also shown to boost the immune system, improve sleep quality and helps with stress management.
2) Optimize your sleep
If you are getting around seven to nine hours of sleep a night, you will encourage muscle growth and repair, help keep your brain alert, improve your blood sugar levels and even enhance lifespan.
Whilst there are several tips on social media such as eating certain fruits before bed, avoiding electronic devices and avoiding alcohol, one of the most important rules of optimizing sleep is maintaining a good circadian rhythm.
This means going to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. To do so, try maintaining a routine and try to spend time outdoors during daylight, especially in the morning. This is because natural light exposure helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes alertness during the day.
To measure progress, you can use devices such as smartwatches that track sleep duration and quality.
3) Regular saunas
Saunas, small rooms heated with hot air or steam, have cardiovascular health benefits.
When exposed to high temperatures, the body then works to cool itself down by increasing heart rate, blood flow, and cardiac output. This is known to decrease blood pressure, leading to benefits for cardiovascular health and longevity.
For best results from this biohack, choose a temperature between 175-195F (80-90C) with 10-20% humidity for 30 minutes at least three times a week.
4) Himalayan salt in water
Electrolyte levels are important for the body to function properly. They help to balance the amount of water in your body, balance your acid/base (pH) levels and move nutrients into your cells.
Your body makes electrolytes naturally, as well as obtaining them from food, drinks and supplements.
However, if your levels drop, mineral-rich Himalayan salt contains lots of electrolytes, and are proven to help detoxing the body, supporting kidney and liver functions.
Therefore, around 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt added to a one litre of water is recommended per day.
Not only will it keep you feeling energised, but also help to boost your metabolism.
5) Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is a biohack for men, as often when men get older their testosterone levels drop.
TRT is often used when the body isn’t producing sufficient testosterone. Therefore, TRT can help restore testosterone levels to a healthy range.
There is science behind the fact TRT improves energy levels, sex drive, increases bone density, muscle mass, and insulin sensitivity and generally improvement in mood from testosterone replacement.
To check if you require TRT, a medical professional can measure your testosterone levels, which should normally range between 300 to 1,000 ng/dL.
It is important to be aware of the potential risks of TRT, which can include rash, itching, or irritation where the testosterone is applied.
6) Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is a biohack that allows you to reset your bodily functions by creating an eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of eating and periods of not eating (fasting).
Several changes occur to the body when fasting is completed. These include; decrease of bloods insulin level (which promotes fat burning), increase in human growth hormone (again promotes fat burning and muscle gain), and cellular repair where the body removed waste from its cells.
These changes are scientifically proven to have benefits on the body; helping you lose weight and visceral fat, reducing your insulin resistance, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in your body, and potential benefits for heart health.
For those trying intermittent fasting for the first time, 14:10 and 12:12 tend to be the best options because they are less restrictive in terms of when you can eat.
Therefore, you can fast for fourteen hours and eat for ten, or fast for twelve ours and eat for twelve.
You can then build on this and try 16:8, fasting for sixteen hours and eat within an eight-hour window. For example, skipping breakfast, and eating lunch and dinner, however others may choose to skip their evening meal instead.
It is important to avoid doing strenuous exercise when fasting.
7) Moderate coffee intake
Low to moderate doses of caffeine (50–300 mg) are scientifically proven to cause increased alertness, energy, and ability to concentrate.
Science also suggests drinking two cups of coffee a day could help ward off heart failure, when a weakened heart has difficulty pumping enough blood to the body.
Both regular and decaf coffee have a protective effect on the liver also. Research shows that coffee drinkers are more likely to have liver enzyme levels within a healthy range than people who don’t drink coffee.
Experts say it is healthy to drink a maximum of 2.5 cups of coffee per day.
8) Regular blood testing
Blood tests can be used for many things, including checking levels of blood glucose, calcium, cholesterol, electrolytes, as well as blood tests that measure kidney function.
These indications help to monitor your risk of heart and circulatory diseases and diabetes, or how your condition is being managed.
Blood tests for different chemicals and proteins can also indicate how your liver or kidneys are working.
Having regular blood tests are a good way of catching illness or disease early, therefore having at least one per year is recommended.
We breath every single day, but we often don’t even think about how we are breathing.
In times of stress, our breath automatically responds by shortening and speeding up and this can cause further strain on the body.
With breathwork practice, the body can be trained to automatically control breathing and utilize it as a calming tool during times of stress.
Breathing also directly affects how much oxygen our cells are getting, so when we deepen and slow down the breath from its usual pattern, we allow more oxygen to enter each cell.
To practice breathwork, inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds. Repeat this for around 10 minutes per session. For best results, do this once in the morning and once in the evening.
10) Red Light Therapy (RLT)
Red light therapy (RLT) is a popular method used to optimize overall skin health. RLT also helps to boost muscle recovery, reduce pain and inflammation, support nervous system health, and generally increase energy levels.
For those who experience inflammation and pain with Achilles tendinitis, have signs of skin aging and skin damage, research shows RLT may smooth your skin and help with wrinkles. RLT is also known to helps with acne scars, burns, and signs of UV sun damage.
To complete the treatment, lie in a full-body LED red light bed or pod or be treated by a professional with a device that’s outfitted with panels of red lights.
Professionals recommend trying red light therapy three times per week for 10 minutes each time for a minimum of one month.