I’m sure you’ve tried a supplement or diet or new habit to see what would happen. Maybe you had hormonal acne and Pinterest said to take high dose B5 (which I do NOT recommend) or someone told you to try high intensity interval training to lose the baby weight or freshman 15 and you gave it a shot. Maybe what you tried didn’t work for you, so you tried something else. Maybe you made some adjustments to make it fit you and your personal biochemistry.
Then, guess what! You’re a biohacker and you didn’t even know it. In fact, women are among the first biohackers ever. Heard the term “old wives’ tale”? Yep… the first ever unofficial biohacking handbook was passed down from generation to generation of grandmothers, moms, wives, sisters, and gal pals through word of mouth. Now we have science to confirm or deny our wives’ tales, therefore making them bonafide biohacks.
What’s the difference between a life hack and a biohack?
Ok, so I know we’ve all scrolled through IG or Pinterest saving and favoriting life hack videos that show you how to turn an old bra into a party hat or whatever. That stuff is cool, but how practical is it? Striving for minimalism, I try not to keep old worn-out clothes, toilet paper tubes, or glass bottles lying in wait for the perfect lifehack opportunity to present itself. Biohacking, on the other hand, is way more practical.
Biohacking is the process of experimenting with your own body, your own biology and chemistry, to find ways to perform more optimally in whatever it is you want to do. Pioneer biohacker, Dave Asprey, took this notion mainstream with his Bulletproof Coffee. Who would have thought to blend butter into coffee? Well, Dave had butter blended into his tea by happenstance and realized how amazing he felt then decided to adjust that idea to fit his body and his life better. That’s the essence of biohacking.
Do you need access to anything special or a hardy financial reserve to be a biohacker?
No. Like I mentioned above, you have probably already been biohacking your whole life. It’s up to you how deep into the realm of biohacking you want to go, but there are always inexpensive ways to biohack. For example, you can spend upwards of $300 on a ring that monitors your vital signs throughout the day, or you measure the things that are relevant to you with cheaper devices. You can measure heartrate variability with the HeartMath emWave Pro which I found on sale on Amazon for less than $200. You can measure your basal body temperature (which I recommend for any woman interested in hormonal health and/or fertility and/or non-hormonal birth control) with a Thermometer from Walgreens that costs about $6 – 19 and use a monthly cycle tracking app for free on your smart phone. You can also track your glucose and blood ketones with the kind of meter (this one tests both and is less than $60) that requires a little finger prick.
You could spend several thousands of dollars on diagnostic tests (which I’ve done and don’t necessarily recommend) or you can find reliable sources for home self-checks that are sometimes just as accurate as the results you could get from blood, urine or saliva analysis. Candida, for instance, can be checked for at home. So can cortisol levels as it relates to adrenal fatigue. It’s not as easy as spitting in a tube 4 times one day or having blood drawn, but it’s basically free. Muscle testing, if performed by a skilled practitioner, can also help point you in the right direction.
I’m not recommending you forgo formal testing in all cases, but the nature of biohacking is discovery and experimentation. It’s silly to think that placebo-controlled, double-blind science, as is practiced in the clinical setting, is the only way or unequivocally the right way 100% of the time. You’re pioneering and engineering your own health. No matter how great your physician is, he doesn’t have as much on the line as you do when it comes to your health. Biohackers recognize this and work to meet their care team halfway because that’s their priority. It’s like being a clinical researcher, but your sample size is always just you. Basically n = 1 experimentation in perpetuity.
How I got into Biohacking
I grew up in a health-conscious home with parents who made sure to explain the science behind every weird thing they made us do (ie. physical exercise for an hour everyday proven by sweaty clothes, reading for an hour everyday proven by verbal summarization, eating vegetarian with occasional fish my dad caught at the cleanest river in Georgia, learning to make my own happiness from within, etc…). I felt healthy my whole life with the exception of some weird things that I didn’t realize everyone did not experience like me. Nevertheless, I got on pretty well. I was top of my class without effort, I had friends, I played sports, and I was mostly well-adjusted.
Around the time I was 20 years old I had been dealing with emotional problems, like any other teenager/young adult for several years. My psychiatrist had taught me that there was a pill for everything and as long as I kept coming back, she’d keep the prescriptions flowing freely. After a while I’d had enough and decided to get back to my more natural roots. I’d just taken a course in Abnormal Psychology in which I was assigned to read The Hyperactivity Hoax and A Dose of Sanity. Those two books then led me to a whole host of other great works with a similar common idea: there is a biochemical and bioenergetic cause and effect relationship between your emotional well-being and your physical well-being.
Armed with the knowledge that it wasn’t all in my head I began taking some targeted nutrient therapies in supplement form. Then I went to the doctor for a check-up and casually mentioned that my eyes were always dry. My doctor, who was the lifelong learner type, said “I’ve always suspected their was something going on with you” or something like that. Then she ordered a test panel to look for autoimmune disorders (specifically Sjogren’s Syndrome).
When I went to receive my results, she sadly was not there so I had to have my follow-up appointment with a different doctor. He came in with a worried look on his face and said “well, you have lupus, but the good news is that women with lupus can live past their 40’s even with today’s medications”. I left confused, not knowing what lupus was, and hit Google while comfort eating a pastry at the nearest Panera. Then I called my mom who told me that my paternal grandmother also had lupus… who knew?
Long story short, after a decade of biohacking (before I knew what biohacking was) I rarely get the signature lupus butterfly rash, and I go entire months at a time feeling amazing. Along the way I discovered various genetic reasons that explained some of the weird things that had always made me a little different than my peers. Those things include Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, Chiari malforation, a human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype that makes me susceptible to inflammation from toxic overload (including mold exposure), and a methylation pathway full of variants that mirrors children I’ve seen with severe autism and epilepsy (partly the reason for my bizarre, ever evolving hemiplegic migraines with aura). All of which are still being further investigated and biohacked by me and my care team.
All of that led me to become a nutritionist, then a health coach, then fitness instructor, then get a master’s degree in Nutrition Science, and perhaps next a clinical doctorate in nutrition (with courses heavy in nutrigenomics). I used my desire to be healthy to catalyze my curiosity for genetics, epigenetics, nutrigenomics, cellular biology, and bioenergetics so that I can not only help myself, but also help others. Before the Abnormal Psychology course, A Dose of Sanity, and my haphazard lupus diagnosis I was dead set on being an artist and believed science was for the birds.
So yea, I am passionate about biohacking, especially as it relates to women’s health.
Who can benefit the most from biohacking?
Anyone who wants to be better at everything they do. That includes girl bosses, moms, the chronically ill, athletes, professional adventurers, and anyone with a pulse. Is that you? Then stick around and follow me on Instagram to dip your toe into the world of biohacking. Let’s reclaim our health, beauty, and youth the way our mothers and grandmothers did back before the medical field took our well-being seriously, because (let’s be real) we’re still pretty much on our own to advocate for ourselves. BUT, now we have science and a vast web-based, global community to add to our resources.
Cheers to the biohacking women of our generation who are ready for their glow-up!