You don’t have to be a powerlifter willing to live on lettuce-wrapped sardines all week with one “cheat day” to biohack. Biohacking is just about using the latest science and practical guidance to improve how you feel every day.
What is biohacking?
While Bulletproof took biohacking mainstream, it doesn’t have to be all butter coffee and vibration plates. According to Dave Asprey, “biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology”. It allows us to optimize the body’s potential and become the “absolute best version of ourselves”. Basic biohacking can be simple. No fancy gadgets, no expensive gear, and no butter coffee necessary.
It could be argued, that women are the original biohackers. We have been manipulating our hormones to control pregnancy starting thousands of years ago using lunaception (tracking cycles to the moon) and more modern ways via birth control pills. Generally, women are more in tune with their bodies which makes us prime candidates for biohacking. So what’s the difference between biohacking for men vs women? It’s all about those hormones.
When our hormones are working with us rather against us, we see a decrease in mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, cramps, and an increase in energy. Who doesn’t want more energy, more vitality, more time to do the things they love? Below are five super simple ways to get started biohacking now.
5 ways to biohack your health.
1. Hack your diet.
What you eat has a direct effect on you and your gut microbiome (the community of bacteria living in your gut). Low bacterial diversity (dysbiosis), associated with a Standard American Diet (SAD), has been linked to inflammation contributing to autoimmune disease, dementia, and cancer, just to name a few.
Fiber is a key player here. Essentially, fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut. You should be getting at least 25 gm of fiber, however, most Americans only get about 15 gm. That may seem like a lot, but it’s easy if you are eating fresh, whole foods in the form of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains at every meal.
There’s no way you can reach that if you are eating processed, inflammatory foods, such as refined sugar and fast food. Sugar is devoid of any real nutrients and impacts your body in a very negative way. Sugar (including artificial sweeteners) can alter gut flora, feeding bad bacteria, and creating dysbiosis.
So forget that processed takeout, sugary beverages and snacks, genetically modified gluten, and dairy. Your body needs high-quality nutrients that will support optimal body function and decrease inflammation.
Start your day with a smoothie packed with medical grade protein powder, healthy fats such as avocado, and green leafy veggies such as spinach or kale. Lunch and dinner should be high in organic veggies with a portion of high-quality protein. Carbohydrates can be eaten in for form of organic starchy veggies such as sweet potato or gluten-free whole grains. It’s not about calorie counting. Instead, count nutrients and nutrient quality.
2. Get more (and better) sleep.
An estimated 50-70 million Americans report having a sleep disorder and insufficient sleep has actually been deemed a public health problem. Lack of sleep can have a negative impact on the hormones that control glucose regulation and appetite, which is why you crave simple carbohydrates after a night of poor sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene can help you not only increase the amount of time you sleep but the quality of your sleep as well.
Decrease your exposure to blue light from your phone, computer, and LED lights. Blue light is the type of light color your brain associates with daytime, and exposing your brain to excessive amounts of this type of light in the nighttime hours alters your circadian rhythms and your body’s natural melatonin production. Try staying off your electronic devices 2-3 hours before bed or use a blue light filter such as the night shift function on your smartphone or download f.lux to your computer. All of this helps to signal to your body it’s time to go to sleep, leading to higher quality sleep and a better mood the next day.
3. Lower stress levels.
Did you know women are more stressed than men? That’s right. And prolonged elevated cortisol will have you feeling “tired and wired” resulting in a cortisol crash leaving you with low energy and low productivity. Stress may be inevitable in daily life, so what are we to do? Plan your self-care like you do anything else that is important for your health. Examples include a daily morning meditation, journaling before bed, weekly massage, and anything else that you do for you that will rejuvenate your body and mind.
4. Get moving.
Only 21.7% of adults meet physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and weight training recommendations. Regular exercise can help keep your weight in check and decrease adipose tissue (ie fat). Too much fat can act as an endocrine organ and increase the risk for inflammatory diseases and insulin resistance. Exercise can help remove excess estrogen, increase testosterone (which increases sex drive, increases muscle mass), and decrease cortisol levels. Make sure to balance high-intensity exercise with low-intensity activities, like restorative yoga and walking.
We’ve already learned that cortisol increases when we are stressed. Oxytocin can help counteract that stress hormone simply by being connected to other women. Those women with a good social network will release more oxytocin than those who don’t. When life becomes stressful, women benefit from connection and social support. One study showed, the more friendships a woman has, the less risk of developing a physical impairment. It turns out that spending some quality time with your BFF could be one of the easiest biohacks you could make!
Biohacking does not have to be complicated or expensive to help make major shifts in how you feel. In fact, it’s now moving into the mainstream of many women’s lives. Just by starting with basic hacks such as changing your diet, lowering stress levels through meditation, and decreasing exposure to blue light to get a deeper sleep, we can see huge shifts in how we feel every day. It doesn’t have to be complicated or overly expensive to optimize your physical and mental health through small changes in your habits, and as a result, your hormones. Happy hacking!