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Biohacking the Brain

Publication date: 18 November 2013

Recently I listened to an online interview with Dave Asprey, the "bulletproof executive". Dave spend $300,000 dollars on upgrading his brain and body, in the process losing 100 lb in weight and gaining 20 IQ points. The more I hear from Dave, the more I like his approach.

What Is Biohacking?

The term hacking comes from the IT industry, where it means applying systems thinking to solve your challenges and problems - "an unstoppable way of thinking". Biohacking is applying this approach to the human body (and brain) to optimise its performance. Biohacking is not medical - it's not focused on disease (it's much broader in fact). It is focused on data. That means measuring the body objectively (e.g. using lab testing).

Let's give an example. Suppose you're troubled by "brain fog" - inability to focus and think clearly. You decide to stop eating biscuits and cakes (knowing that wheat can cause problems), but find when you try, you're hungry all the time. This gives you a new problem to solve - how do you switch off (or better, re-regulate) hunger and appetite? Maybe the constant appetite is related to blood sugar problems. A simple lab test - HbA1C - tells you indeed your blood sugar is dysregulated and you have a degree on insulin resistance. How do you improve your insulin resistance? One causal factor for insulin resistance is stress - another test reveals high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and a physiological measurement of your heart rate variability shows your autonomic nervous system is out of balance. So what to do about these? And so on. With systems thinking you break down the big problem into solvable sub-problems.

It isn't necessary to spend $300,000 to regain peak performance - far from it. The lab tests I've mentioned are inexpensive, and there are even cheaper ways to measure (and train) physiological function. Dave Asprey himself is a big fan of neurofeedback and biofeedback. Heart Rate Variability training is one of the most cost-effective. It's been shown to correlate with executive function and emotional balance - two of the most important aspects of brain function, practically speaking.

Biohacking could be one way to descibe what I do in my professional practice. If you'd like help with biohacking your brain and body, and if you're anywhere near York, England, do get in touch.

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