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This is my part four in my 2024 guide to nutrition & wellness trends where I discuss new and emerging innovations in the wellness sphere. Up fourth I’m discussing biohacking: what’s legit and what’s not.

You can see installment one in my series on the sobriety movement here and the second in the series on how women’s health is evolving here. The third installment on at-home and direct to consumer health testing is here.

What is Biohacking

If you hang around the health sphere at all, you’ve probably seen the term biohacking. It basically means DIY human enhancement. You’re hacking your biology to live a longer and healthier life using sometimes wacky devices and supplements like nootropics, stem cell therapy, NAD, injections, infusions, that sort of thing.

The technical definition of biohacking is using genetics, neuroscience, and nutrition tactics to enhance physical or mental performance, improve overall health and well-being, or achieve a specific health outcome. Some biohacking trends are free or inexpensive, easy to implement, and have real health benefits. Others can be downright dangerous.

Famous biohacker and self proclaimed father of biohacking Dave Asprey claims that he’s going to live to be 180 (which is kind of laughable and cute, and boy, does he have a ego that will live way longer than he no doubt). So his platform is all about life extension. Others biohack their way into improved physical performance, better sex, weight loss, or even gene editing to erase faulty genes (sketchy).

People use biohacking for the following reasons:

  • to live longer
  • enhance athletic performance
  • fix perceived flaws
  • have better control over health

Types of biohacking include the following:

  • DIY biology: food, supplements, microbiology
  • Nutrigenomics: how food interacts with people’s genes
  • Grinders: human augmentation like implanted devices

The psychology behind biohacking is interesting. It’s about enhancing health and performance, yes, but underneath all the noise is the desire to stay young forever. Our society places such an emphasis on youth that it’s easy to get seduced by the promises of biohacking extending your life or reversing your age. Most of these extreme claims are not supported.

There are some biohacking tools that are indeed legit and beneficial and others that are downright dangerous. Let’s take a look at both.

Biohacking: The Legit

The following biohacking tools actually do have proven benefits, but as with all things health and wellness, not all of these are right for everyone. And another thing you’ll notice is many of the below can be performed for free, but biohackers would like you to buy more sophisticated versions of their own products (like a cold plunge tub or an earthing mat) when you could easily get the same benefits for free.

  • Ice baths/cold plunging. Cold exposure does have real benefits, like inflammation reduction, boosting metabolism, and boosting immune function. You can read my post on it here. I do believe in the benefits of a cold plunge. Biohackers say we’re too comfortable in cushy modern day society, and that making yourself uncomfortable has health and longevity benefits. Cold plunging/exposure isn’t right for everyone though; it’s a stress on the body, which is good in some circumstances (hormesis), but not for everyone: If you’re generally in poor health or your body is stressed, or you could experience additional risks.
  • Red light therapy: can also be beneficial for mitochondrial health, anti-aging, skin & eye health, and may combat depression. Read my post on it here. I can tell a difference in my skin from using red light therapy. I use an LED mask, but many biohackers invest in very expensive full body red light panels which can run in the 4-5 digits.
  • Grounding: this is the practice of letting your feet touch the earth for a period of time each day. It’s said to balance hormones and reduce stress. We humans spend too much time indoors and not connected enough with nature. There actually is some good evidence that grounding is good for you. Here’s my article on it. But biohackers will tell you to invest in expensive grounding mats for your beds and homes (and get a commission when you buy them), and I’m dubious about the efficacy of those. Going outside and sinking your feet into the earth just feels good, and what’s the harm in that?
  • Sun exposure: the idea here is getting bright sunlight on your face in the early morning helps regulate cortisol production and gives you energy. Paired with dimming the lights at night and sleeping in a very dark room, which boosts melatonin production, this daily practice is said to balance hormones and boost feel-good serotonin and energy during the day while improving sleep at night. And yes, there is good evidence for this. Additionally, sun exposure is good for skin (5-10 minutes), vitamin D, and mood. And it’s free.
  • Nootropics AKA smart drugs: are drugs or supplements that enhance cognition and brain function. Examples include caffeine (used strategically), adaptogenic herbs, lion’s mane (medicinal mushroom), certain amino acids like L-theanine, bacopa, and even nicotine. Biohackers make a lot off supplement sales, and you’ll often see various nootropics packaged together in kits for a hefty price. Do they work? Some better than others. There’s not much downside other than caffeine overuse or poor quality herbs and supplements. Always get your supplements from a reputable source with quality standards in place!
  • Stem cell therapy: promotes the repair response of diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue using stem cells or their derivatives. It’s a form of regenerative medicine. Biohackers use stem cell therapy for injuries and to reverse aging and for sexual enhancement. Plasma rich plasma therapy similarly uses your own plasma to inject at injury sites and to improve skin or enhance your sex parts (google the O shot). Again, an expensive and not FDA approved therapy, but many swear by the benefits.

Biohacking: The BS

  • Up first we have my favorite, Perineum sunning (aka butthole sunning). It pretty much sounds like what it is. You sun your perineum/butthole to increase libido and testosterone. There is absolutely zero validity to any of these claims. Butthole sunning can cause a gnarly sunburn, and because that area is never exposed to sunlight, could put you at higher risk of skin cancer. I’ve also read it may activate high risk strains of HPV.
  • DIY gene editing is probably the riskiest and stupidest. Gene editing is a group of technologies that give scientists the ability to change an organism’s DNA. These technologies allow genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. Clinical trial data suggests that gene therapy can be effective in treating some heritable blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia. Other trials have shown promise for treatment of life-threatening rare diseases. All this sounds well and good, but people are doing it at home with kits they bought online. Examples include full-body microbiome transplantation, telomerase gene therapy (anti-aging), and CRISPR DNA injection. Most of these experiments come under serious criticism and safety concerns by the scientific community.  (source)
  • Certain dietary biohacks like carnivore and indefinite keto: These extreme diets are creating a generation of orthorexia. The keto diet is probably the biggest health trend to surface within the past few years, and it does work. But our bodies are not meant for continual keto, and it may do more harm than good in some people. Read my manifesto here. And the carnivore diet, which means you eat only meat, is an extreme diet that biohacker bros love to magic bullet. They claim that vegetables are toxic and will kill you. Except that we have scads of data saying the opposite and not one stufy saying the carnivore diet boosts longevity. Read my post on the carnivore diet here.
  • Then there are the overly expensive (like many biohacks) therapies like infusions (NAD, for one), injections, and various devices like vagus nerve stimulators and what not. While some of these may not be outright dangerous, they’re not wallet-friendly nor accessible to the general public.

Ben Greenfield demonstrating some expensive biohacking stuff


At its core, biohacking seeks to help you improve your health and biometrics, and I’m all for that. Biohacking encourages you to work on foundational health practices like diet, sleep, movement, nature for optimal health. There are free ways to do this, like cold water and sun exposure, earthing, hydration, even intermittent fasting. But somewhere along the line we took a turn for the expensive and potentially dangerous.

You don’t need expensive devices or infusions to maintain good health and longevity. Stick to the biohacking basics and don’t fall for the fads.

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