Bio-hacking has become an ubiquitous term in the last few years. There has been an emerging sub-culture of self-care that has now been elevated to include every area of our lives. From hacking sleep to fitness, from hacking food to your favorite morning drinks, but has consumerism co-opted the importance of health and just created a short-lived production line of items or is Bio-hacking here to stay?
The desire to better ourselves, our condition and our experience of human existence has been with us since the beginning of humanity. To the mythological invention of fire, to the development of cities and transportation, the desire for growth has always been present. Today, there are copious amounts of movements, corporations and ideas floating around in the ether. I realize this is extremely subjective, but I wanted to share some of my experiences, review some of the more prominent names in the bio-hacking world and share with you what they can offer.
Anxiety is at an all time high in our society today. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from one form or another of anxiety. One of the major adverse affects of anxiety is that it creates the inability to focus and you end up with the dreaded brain fog. Seemingly science has now caught up with more the ancient spiritual practice of meditation. Meditation has been known to help control heart-rate, lower inflammation markers among a whole set of physical and psychological advantages. .
Spire is a new app-based wearable device that tracks your stress-levels, it even comes with a geo-tracker that discovers where you react to stress more frequently. It also tracks your daily steps. It's filled with meditation goodies from some of the most well-known names in the meditation world, like Thich Nhat Hanh who takes you on a guided meditation. This app has lowered my overall response time to stress, and buzzes to remind me when I need to focus back on my breath. It buzzes in encouragement when I have had ‘focus streaks’, when the rhythm in my breath is elevated just enough so I can focus. It tells me when I have had long calm streaks. It’s a really helpful and inconspicuous device that has changed how I breath and how I deal with anxiety.
Then there's Dave Asprey who was inspired by yak tea in the Himalayas to create a bio-enhancing optimized version of coffee which has now turned into a industry-name where he scours the globe for nature-based products, combining them with technology and science to bring to the consumer a new way to be human. His new project is a great example of this, which takes the spirituality of what is a typical Buddhist stance on meditation and offers a more secular approach to the science of meditation. He’s calling it 40 Years of Zen (I hope to be doing a review of this soon!) which promises to “...stoke the creative furnace...” an inspirational clarion call to better thinking and personal mental optimization. Everything is grass-fed, natural and researched. From the brain-octane oil to collagen protein powder, from the anti-microbial coffee to the newest addition, the vibrating plate, this company is highly aspiration. Their mission statement is laudable in that it seeks to combine not just food, but technology and science in a triple-threat that hopes to advance the quest for human betterment. “ Our mission is to help people perform better, think faster, and live better using a proven blend of ancient knowledge and brand new technologies, tempered by research, science, and measured results from our customers, top athletes, and medical professionals.” This desire to help humanity is why I like Bulletproof.
Four Sigmatic, have taken medicinal mushrooms out of the darkness and into the light; for a long time, whenever people heard the phrase ‘medicinal mushroom’ they would automatically think about the illegal mushrooms used for psychedelic after-effects. Today, because of companies like Four Sigmatic, this is changing. There has been study after study showing the amazing long-term health benefits of eating mushrooms. What sets Four Sigmatic apart they have combined mushrooms with coffee. There is Chaga, Reishi and Lion's Mane. Each one has particular benefits in long-term usage. Chaga and Reishi share similar properties in assisting long-term organ health. Where Lion’s Mane is one of the most natural forest-based nootropics.
Nootrobox is Silcon Valley's answer to clean “nootropics”. Their tagline is a form of hipster socialism: Nootropics for Everyone. They come in the little glass jars, cardboard boxes, hip packaging and even promotional stickers to cover your swag in. The products on the website are broken down into easy to grasp explanatory sections, as well as a very helpful area where the science of cognition is broken down for interested parties. Nootropics are not one-size-fits-all brain-enhancing smart drugs, this seems to be an ongoing presumption about these particular over-the-counter pills. Everyone’s bio-chemistry is different. This is good to keep in mind when purchasing items like this.
This review would not be complete without a beneficial book. “ Written with the wisdom of a top physician but the warmth and humor of a close friend”, Meet Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams, she got her Medical degree from the reputable UC San Francisco. Although the main focus of her book, Body Wise : Discovering Your Body’s Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing is on women and their physiology, her general concepts about the body being intelligent, including the need to listen to our emotions is a must-read, especially in a Western society that pressures us that our feelings need to be repressed to experience actual progress. She takes a holistic approach to health and wellness by adopting a well-rounded approach rather than the all-too-popular Big Pharma approach of over-medicating patients, which is a critique she lists as one of many reasons why anxiety is at an all-time high in relationship to ongoing health issues. She also offers a practical 28-day guide that promises to restore the five fundamentals of health: “ eating, sleeping, moving, loving, and finding purpose...” It’s the last one that our society does not equate to health. But if you have no purpose for eating, you will eat everything, or no purpose for sleeping, you won’t invest in restful sleep and etc. We need books like this to remind us why we live and breath.
This review started with a question, Is Bio-Hacking a Fad? Well, a fad is something that has a shelf-life, and will eventually fall out of cultural fashion. But, in all honesty, wanting to be better, wanting to improve ourselves and our experience of existence has always followed us throughout the ongoing development of the human race. It forces us to evaluate important aspects of who we are and even why we are here on this planet. Health and cognition are two crucial elements that are necessary to have to be able to find questions to why we all exist. These products help us do that. So, in short, no Bio-hacking is not a fad, it’s here to stay, not because there are companies that created consumable products, but mostly because we are curious beings who want more out of life.