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Saturday, 28 November 2020

Biohacking on the rise

Biohacking is a new health trend that shows you how to live a better life with the help of science and technology, writes Ghada Abdel-Kader

Ghada Abdel-Kader, Saturday 14 Dec 2019
Greenfield takes a cold bath
Greenfield takes a cold bath
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Biohacking is a new concept for optimising your life and body using technology, holistic science and personal experiment. Though it has spread all over the globe, it is still new in Egypt. It is a more natural and preventive way for the human body to overcome the symptoms of age through a healthy lifestyle. 

“I have been training my body and learning about nutrition and diet since I was 14 years old. I began to study in college when I was 16 years old,” 37-year-old US enthusiast Ben Greenfield, a biohacker. told Al-Ahram Weekly during his visit to Egypt. 

Greenfield is one of the world’s top 100 influential people in health and fitness, and he has spent almost 20 years studying how to optimise the body and brain. In order to do so, he has studied anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, pharmaceuticals, microbiology, biochemistry and nutrition. 

He is a biohacker, personal trainer, spinning instructor, endurance athlete, nutritionist, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach. He practises tennis, bodybuilding, water polo, volleyball, cycling and triathlon as sports.

According to Greenfield, there’s an important difference between modern medicine and biohacking. “Modern medicine involves the use of pharmaceuticals, drugs and surgery, while biohacking is more natural, even if we also use science to biohack,” he said. 

Modern medicine is often not meant to prevent disease, concentrating instead on treating it, but biohacking is designed to do just that using things like exposure to cold and heat, supplements, various forms of movement, different ways of sleeping, and so on.

Greenfield said there were precautions to take before starting biohacking. “Many companies sell technologies to help biohacking, but they contain Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technologies that could be damaging to the body, for example,” he said.

Many biohackers use smart drugs such as modafinil, nicotine or Adderall even if they are pharmaceutical drugs. Other biohackers advertise ways of losing weight or gaining muscle quickly, but these may be unhealthy for the human body, Greenfield said.

Biohacking is suitable for anyone, whether practising sport or not. “There is biohacking for anyone. It depends on your goals and what are your needs are,” he said.

Greenfield fixes his workplace to reduce muscle fatigue and increase productivity
Greenfield fixes his workplace to reduce muscle fatigue and increase productivity

Greenfield’s book Boundless: Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body and Defy Aging is available, for example, and aims to show how anyone can optimise their body, brain and spirit. He has also made podcasts interviewing famous biohackers around the world on his website that includes nutrition tips, fitness shows and videos. 

Greenfield gives some guidelines for beginners eager to start biohacking. First, think about your body as a battery needing to be recharged, he said. The most important thing is electrical flow. Grounding or earthing the body is contacting the earth’s surface energy by walking barefoot or doing yoga or meditation in the open air. 

Second, there is nutrition and blood and DNA tests. “Choose a healthy and appropriate diet suitable for your age, body type, and health status. Intermittent fasting is a wonderful way of helping your gut to heal and for you to lose weight and burn fat,” he said, adding that he recommends spending several hours a day without eating. 

Third, eat natural and unprocessed food like vegetables, seeds (quinoa and chia), starches (potatoes and sweet potatoes) fruit, grains, nuts and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, rosemary thyme, cinnamon and berries. These are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and are easy to digest.  

Fourth, movement is important and involves doing physical activity throughout the day such as walking, standing, squatting, stretching and going up and down stairs. “Spend 20 to 30 minutes doing easy aerobic exercises in the beginning or end of the day,” Greenfield said.

Fifth, get eight hours sleep a night. The absence of any light by using sleeping masks is a good idea, as is keeping a steady temperature, and both can help you to relax and to get to sleep fast. 

Sixth, expose your body to sun light during the day. Use the light and energy from the sun and eliminate artificial sources of light as far as possible, including from computers, mobile phones and TVs. 

Seventh, manage your stress. Stress is a main factor for chronic diseases like obesity, asthma, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, anxiety and depression. Getting in the habit of going to a sauna can help, as can cold baths or showers twice a day or swimming.

Eighth, drink pure filtered water, and ninth, take care of your gut through a generally healthy lifestyle. “It can do its job, keep you well, and improve your digestion,” Greenfield said. Lastly, everyone needs a daily intake of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin D, manganese, zinc, iron and beta carotene.

 “Biohackers can expect to sleep better after day one. For weight loss, it can take some four to eight weeks, and for better recovery it can take two weeks,” Greenfield concluded.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 December, 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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