Work smarter, lift heavier, run faster, think clearer — if there is one message we receive more and more from society, it's this:
The pressure to perform better — in seemingly every way imaginable — has evolved into a sport of sorts. And biohackers are those who enjoy (and even thrive off) playing the game.
Biohackers perform self-experiments to find new, inventive solutions to very old problems. Their goal is to tweak their own biology by taking supplements, bathing in infrared light, drinking coffee with butter or regularly (and voluntarily) taking cold showers .
There is no limit to the number of self-experiments biohackers are willing to do on the human body. These tests range from the very expensive — like the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who spent US$250,000 on biohacking by age 32 — to the questionably gruesome, such as voluntarily inserting a metal chip in one's hand .
Below, we explain what biohacking is in regard to health and wellness. And we'll share some very basic biohacks you can do to perform better in your daily life — no metal chip required.
What Are Biohackers?
Biohackers are those who participate in ‘biohacking’ — an ambiguous term used to describe self-experimentation for the sake of better performance.
'Performance in what?' you ask? Well, anything.
Biohackers seek to live longer, to sleep better, to get through the workday optimally, to be more productive and to increase their fitness level (and that's just the beginning). Biohackers' self-experiments are their own form of DIY genetic engineering as they hope to become the best version of themselves.
Like many things, there is a spectrum to biohacking. Biohacking could be something as simple as taking a daily multivitamin, mixing collagen peptides into your morning coffee, writing in a gratitude journal or performing a daily meditation practice. These small steps and lifestyle changes are widely accepted to help people lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.
Extreme biohackers, on the other hand, aren't interested in small steps. In fact, they've gone to great — and very expensive — lengths in their never-ending, never-satisfied journey toward self-improvement.
We tend to view biohacking somewhere in the middle. We see it as a way to get back to ancestrally consistent and aligned behaviours in a modern, digitalised world. Because we're so far removed from how we lived ancestrally, we need to take quite strong and intentional action. We prefer the minimalist approach — hot and cold therapy, exercise, sleep tracking, and the like.
We'll show you both sides of the spectrum here, and it's up to you where you want to land in your own health optimisation journey.
Extreme Biohackers: The Wildest Biohacking Tales
Extreme biohackers have created their own community on the internet. Fueled by countless articles, numerous podcasts and a fictional Netflix series created by German director Christian Ditter, the stories of biohacking continue to get more extreme .
Here are some of the more famous — and extreme — biohackers.
Josiah Zayner Alters His Own Genome
Josiah Zayner is an artist, biohacker, former NASA chemist and founder of The-ODIN.com. His long list of biohacking stunts include injecting himself with Crispr, a syringe carrying DNA . In addition, he's tried to use gene therapy to change the colour of his skin and, most recently, created a DIY vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic .
As you might expect, Zayner's DIY clinical trials regularly get him in trouble with the FDA and California's Department of Consumer Affairs. Most recently, he's been under investigation for practising medicine without a licence .
Dave Asprey Takes 150 Supplements per Day
Dave Asprey is the founder of Bulletproof (a company focused on high-performance drinks and supplements), a New York Times bestselling author and the host of the ‘Bulletproof Radio’ podcast .
Dave personally spent over US$2 million on biohacking. His self-experiments led to a 45-kilo weight loss, which he maintained for years. Now, Asprey's goal is to live to be 180 years old — leading him to take 150 supplements a day, to practise intermittent fasting and to sleep a precise 6 hours, 10 minutes per night (in complete REM sleep, of course) .
Peter Thiel Donates Millions To Live Longer
Peter Thiel is the billionaire founder of PayPal. In his 50s, his goal is to defeat death — and he’ll go to drastic financial lengths to do so. He reportedly gave US$7 million to the Methuselah Foundation, a nonprofit geared toward anti-aging therapies .
4 Actionable, Affordable Biohacks You Can Adopt Today
This probably doesn’t come as a shock, but we aren't encouraging anyone to genetically alter their DNA.
Biohacking doesn't have to be extreme. While it's fun to read these wild, crazy stories, it's not necessary (or practical) in order to enhance your well-being. If you want to optimise your productivity, boost your immune system or simply be a happier human, start with the basics.
1. Change How You Eat
Food is fuel. If you feel tired or lethargic every day, it could be directly related to the food entering your own body.
To start, cut out grains and dairy, which are heavily associated with chronic fatigue . Increase your water intake to prevent brain fog or headaches throughout the day. Lastly, if you don't have a history of eating disorders, you can experiment with intermittent fasting, which boosts your energy levels and offers a number of metabolic benefits .
2. Make Sleep a Top Priority
The pressure to be more productive often causes people to sleep less, when really they should sleep more. (Or at least, they should rethink how they sleep.)
Stay away from all electronics, including your phone, for the two hours leading to bedtime. Wear blue light blocker glasses, which can help improve your REM sleep and is a regular hack of Dave Asprey. Lastly, sleep in a dark room, purchasing blackout curtains if necessary.
3. Exercise Daily
Exercise has been scientifically shown to decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, to reduce fatigue, and to improve your stress levels and sleep patterns . Strive to squeeze in some sort of movement every day — particularly if you work from a computer. You don't need to perform a HIIT workout or go to a CrossFit class every day, just a long walk over your lunch hour can help clear your mind.
Our friend Darryl Edwards of Primal Play has some great ways to get movement into your life.
4. Mix in Collagen and MCTs With Your Morning Coffee
Collagen has been shown to improve the health of your joints, bones, gut and even your hair, skin and nails. To feel (and appear) younger and healthier, simply mix collagen peptides and MCT oil into your morning beverage, such as coffee, tea or a post-workout smoothie.
And no, drinking black coffee with collagen and MCTs will not break your intermittent fast (which also happens to be a biohack we 100% support).
The Best Biohackers Start With Small Steps
Biohackers are people who participate in self-experiments in order to become the best version of themselves. While the internet is filled with stories of famous biohackers undergoing DIY synthetic biology treatments, you don't need to take such drastic measures to improve your well-being.
Optimisation of your health and productivity starts with taking small, strategic steps. Increase your water intake, cut out inflammatory foods, cut down electronic usage and rethink which supplements you use.
At Hunter & Gather, we can't enforce a daily bedtime (but always recommend a consistent sleep routine) or be your workout mate. We can, however, encourage you to adopt a real-food approach in order to feel your best. Even a simple biohack — like adding collagen and MCTs to your morning cup — can help you think clearer and perform better.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.