You have heard about hacking computers, smartphones, emails, and elections. But do you know you can hack your body too? If you have been looking for ways to improve your health and brain performance, that is biohacking.
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking is the desire to make your body and brain function better. It is defined as an attempt to control your biology by manipulating your brain and body to optimize their performance. You can improve your body’s performance by injecting technologies into your skin and adopting extreme diets. Some biohackers have successfully delayed and reversed aging.
What are the different types of biohacking?
The three most popular types of biohacking are DIY biology, nutrigenomics, and grinder.
1. DIY Biology
DIY Bio is a type of biohacking that is led by people with experience in the scientific fields. The biologists work with different organisms to modify DNA. DIY bio provides simpler and cheaper solutions for personal diagnostic, environmental monitoring, and the use of bio-materials.
A grinder is a form of biohacking that sees every body part as hackable. The main goal of grinder biohackers is to become cyborgs by optimizing their bodies using chemical injections, implants, gadgets, and anything else that makes their body function the way they want. A grinder biohacker tries to expand his or her body limits and technology limits by practicing body modification. Some of the cool grinder biohacking projects are EyeBorg, Blood test implant, Hearing colors, Bio magnets, NFC and RFID tags, Bioluminescence, Circadia implant, and The North Sense.
Nutrigenomics, also known as nutritional genomics, is a type of biohacking that focuses on the relationship between the human genome, nutrition, and health. Biohackers focus on how different nutrients affect how you think, feel, and behave.
Let say you want to lose weight. You can either start dieting, exercising, or both. What if none of the two helps you lose weight? Do you have to terminate your weight loss goals? That is where nutrigenomics biohacking comes in.
According to nutrigenomics biohackers, your genes are not unchangeable. For the case of weight loss, your genes determine whether to store fats or burn it. The best approach to reducing weight is by learning how to arouse the genes that instruct your body to burn fats. Taking certain micronutrients will help turn on the good genes. In this case, you’ll lose weight with minimal struggles. With biohacking, you don’t have to be on strict diets to lose or maintain your weight.
Does Biohacking Work?
Biohackers claim that they can alter their biology, but is that possible?
Does DIY Biology and Grinder Work?
Several DIY bio and grinder works have resulted in the intended outcome. An example of a successful grinder biohacking experiment is the 2015 Gizmodo piece. A man successfully got a night vision after injecting his eye with a chemical compound known as Chlorin e6. Chlorin e6 temporarily alters photosensitizers (molecules in the eye), making the eye more receptive to light.
DIY bio is dangerous and can be tricky if you are not well trained. Exposing your body to harmful biological agents can cause different health problems or death.
Does Nutrigenomics Work?
Nutrigenomics can alter or hack your body in several ways:
- help improve a bodily function, such as gut bacteria or blood pressure
- help you achieve mental, physical, and emotional changes, such as reducing stress symptoms or losing weight
- decreasing the risk of developing genetical diseases
The food you eat has an impact on your genes, but our bodies don’t respond in the same way. The difference in stress levels, body weight, and other factors are the reasons why our bodies respond differently. You may be allergic to a food substance that doesn’t affect another person.
Benefits of Biohacking
There are several benefits of biohacking. It is providing solutions to some real-world health problems. Here are some of the benefits of biohacking:
1. Finding cures Biohackers have successfully managed to genetically modify microbes to produce enough insulin many diabetes patients are using to calm symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Biohackers are providing working solutions to some health conditions.
2. Correcting deformities Neil Harbisson, the color-blind musician who underwent an illegal surgery to implant a camera on his skull, is now able to see colors on the screen by noting the vibrations of the color when he is looking at it.
3. Plants glowing when exposed to toxins Some biohackers are trying to develop plants that will glow when exposed to harmful chemical toxins. These plants will help people around them by acting as warning signs. Some biohackers in the UK are trying to genetically modify plants that will be glowing at night.
Is Biohacking Safe?
It depends. Some forms of biohacking are safe, while others are not safe. Changing your diet and taking certain supplements can be safe. RFID implants and other grinder biohacking are safe when there is a medical professional overseeing the process.
Side Effects of Biohacking
Not every biohacking experiment works as expected. Some fails. Human experimentation is also not acceptable as it keeps the person at great risk.
Not every biohacker has a positive mind. Some are working hard to produce dreadful viruses. Biological wars in another drawback of biohacking, where terrorists and other ill-minded people are creating carcinogenic organisms intentionally. There are higher chances that Coronavirus in China is a biological war attack.
Inserting skin implants can cause infections, inflammation, pain, and other discomforts. The long term impact of most implants is not yet known. They might cause some problems in the future.
The temporary night vision biohacking works are successful, but their side effects are not yet known. Biohacking puts you at risk. Michael Jackson died in an attempt to change his skin color using illegal plastic surgery procedures.
Biohacking Safety Precautions
Biohacking is here to stay. All that we can do is to learn how to keep ourselves safe as we adopt biohacking.
Here are some of the things you should do to avoid some of the biohacking side effects:
1. Wait for FDA approval before using new products
2. Only practice health procedures that have been approved by FDA
3. Always consult your doctor before trying a new supplement or procedure
Dvorsky, G. (2015). This Biohacker Used Eyedrops To Give Himself Temporary Night Vision. [online] io9. Available at: https://io9.gizmodo.com/this-biohacker-used-eyedrops-to-give-himself-temporary-1694016390 [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020].
Mojzisova, H., Boneau, S., Vever-Bizet, C. and Brault, D. (2007). Cellular uptake and subcellular distribution of chlorin e6 as functions of pH and interactions with membranes and lipoproteins. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005273607002507 [Accessed 10 Feb. 2020].