What is bio hacking:
Addressing the internal and external factors that influence and shape our biology. This involves identifying those factors that have a positive and life changing impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health and longevity. This in turn, can alter our gene expression (epigenetics) – the actual turning on or off of certain genes. Our genes, which consist of DNA, are only part of the equation. It is the impact that various internal and external factors have on our genes and how they are expressed or altered that drive our biology. You can change the course and direction of your life. It begins with the belief and understanding how it works. Bio hacking is an effort to optimise and upgrade your mind and body. Great examples include: meditation, mindfulness training, intermittent fasting and gut cleansing, engaging in new fitness challenges and new sports. Your body is the vehicle that gets you through life. Your mind is the driver that sets your path and direction. The beauty is that both are not fixed and can be reset and recalibrated.
Let’s explore the impact of our thoughts, beliefs, mindset and behaviors around foods we consume and the impact on our gut microbiome and brain – also how sleep, circadian rhythms, exercise and stress and our exposure to metal and chemical toxins directly affect our health and longevity. Our beliefs and behaviors are the real drivers of inflammation, disease and ultimately aging.
Thoughts, Beliefs and Mindset:
We are the product of our thoughts and beliefs. This in turn shapes our mindset. Many factors influence how we see ourselves and the world around us. We are shaped by our early childhood and experiences – family dynamics, how we are nurtured and loved, formation of self confidence, nutrition, level of activity and sports, education both in school and out of the classroom and eventually into adulthood (college, work, relationships etc). ￼Did you grow up in a positive and supportive environment? Did you excel in school or sports? Did you have a positive social life? Are you in synch with your passions and strengths and living your life purpose?
Our early years are very impactful. Our genetic history is equally powerful. But it is the really the life choices that we make that has the greatest impact on our health and longevity. Our mindset is influenced by a multitude of factors and is reshaped constantly. Our brains, it turns out, are quite malleable and plastic ( neuroplasticity) which allows them to change and re-program (neurogenesis). This process is manifested in many ways and can occur throughout our lifetime. Tonic thoughts produce tonic chemicals in the body. Toxic thoughts produce toxic chemicals in the body. Our body has its own intelligence. Feed it right and reap the rewards.
Positive Thinking – simply is focusing on and believing in positive outcomes. It is formed by trying new things, facing fears and phobias, developing new skills and hobbies. It’s about surrounding yourself with people who support you and believe in you.
Positive Beliefs- develop when you see yourself succeed. Failure is part of the process and without it you cannot grow and succeed. It’s pushing through barriers and self doubt. Success doesn’t come from what you accomplish but rather what you overcome.
Positive Mindset- is the evolution of your thinking and beliefs. It’s the manifestation of all your experiences. A positive mindset is an open and learning mind. Moving beyond your comfort zone and moving past self doubt and familiarity, practicing gratitude, slowing down and being more present all assist in forming a positive mindset.
We Are What We Eat And What Our Foods Eat:
There is no escaping this fact. Food is energy and essential to life. If it is a positive source than our body and brain benefit. If it is a negative source it damages our systems and can lead to inflammation and disease. Increasing healthy fats ( ex: wild caught cold water fish, avocado, chia and flax seeds, grass fed beef,cage free eggs and virgin olive oil and coconut oil ) organic vegetables and fruits, ( phytochemicals and ployphenols) pre- and probiotic foods while decreasing processed foods and sugars, artificial sweeteners trans fats, hydrogenated oils, GMO’s and any food source impacted by herbicides and pesticides, is energy producing and reduces inflammation.
Unhealthy fats, GMO’s and processed foods and sugars directly impact our gut microbiome. Our gut houses billions of micro organisms that play a crucial role that impact immune and brain function. The gut and brain share a bi directional pathway. What you eat affects how you think and what you think affects your gut and microbial diversity. In effect, you have 2 brains that drive your biology and overall health. In addition to healthy fats, and clean sourced proteins and carbs, supplementing with vitamins and minerals supports healthy brain and body function – ex: vitamin D and C, B-complex, magnesium, omega 3’s.
Is a time based restricted eating pattern ( ex: eating from 8 am – 4 pm). During the break your body is resting . The benefits include elevated growth hormone which helps boost your metabolic rate, reduces insulin resistance, lowers LDL cholesterol, boosting cognitive function, reduced inflammation and increased cellular autophagy ( cellular waste removal) and improved sleep.
Sleep is crucial to our brain and body functions. During sleep both our brain and body recharge and cleanse themselves of toxins. Growth hormone is released during sleep. It’s essential to the production of other hormones and allows the body to recover from physical and mental stress. Poor sleep and sleep deprivation has been associated with immune and hormonal dsyfunction, cognitive impairment, poor decision making and reduced mental focus, weight gain, insulin resistance and many other inflammation based conditions.
Building healthy mental and physical habits supports optimal sleep by establishing sound circadian rhythms. In turn, restorative sleep helps support clear thinking, mental focus, healthy food choices and energy for, and interest in, physical activity.
Your body operates on a 24 hr cycle. This is controlled by your circadian rhythms which are linked to your body’s internal clock and your sleep/wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are important in determining your natural sleeping and feeding patterns. Brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and many biological processes are determined by this cycle. Waking up early and getting early light exposure and moving will optimize circadian function.
￼Might be the single best way to hack your biology. Whether you are taking long nature walks, doing yoga, participating in cross fit, endurance racing, body conditioning classes – building your fitness benefits both the body ( weight loss, regulating blood sugar and heart function, balancing hormonal and immune function) and brain ( improving cognitive function, memory, alertness, neuroplasticity and reducing onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s). Exercise, in addition to restorative sleep, has also been linked to preserving teleomere length that has been associated with aging by reducing inflammation and the effects of oxidative stress. Exercise also prevents cellular aging which in turn boosts mitochondria production – the true energy producers of the human body.
Stress is a part of life. It comes in many forms both positive and negative. How we react and respond is what defines the stress effect. A strong and positive mindset like a strong and resilient body can navigate difficult and stressful events, while a weak and compromised mind and body succumbs to it. Building resistance to stress requires mental agility and flexibility, self-awareness, good food choices, healthy sleep habits and a commitment to regular exercise. Meditation and deep breathing helps to integrate all of these.
Healthy nutrition, regular exercise, restorative sleep, mindfulness and meditation assist in down regulating the sympathetic nervous system and up regulating the para sympathetic nervous system – in other words reducing an agitated state and elevating a restful state allowing for better stress management.
Metals ( arsenic, aluminum, mercury and lead ), cleaning and health/ skin care products ( ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide, parabens, triclosan, phthalates, synthetic colours) and over use of pharmaceuticals can be quite toxic and can ultimately trigger inflammation. Reducing your exposure is an essential component to bio hacking.
Metal and chemical toxins have a direct impact on microbial diversity and function and are big players in driving the development of certain cancers.
Pathogens ( bacteria, viruses and parasites) can also play a big role in creating toxicity and inflammation.