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Biohacking Your Way To A Longer Life?

by Srishti Saha
Biohacking Your Way To A Longer Life?

March 2, 2021

People all over are hacking their way to live a healthier, longer life. There is intermittent fasting, near-infrared saunas, and cryotherapy chambers! But, can science really stop ageing and make you live longer?

Quoting Duncan Keith, a veteran hockey player in the New York Times, he goes to a lab, where he performs a bunch of things to keep healthy. The ritual includes dousing himself with infrared lights and lying on a mat for eight minutes with electromagnetic currents. He also consumes supplement pills such as Vitamin C, glutathione and herbs such as ashwagandha. Keith also adds that sometimes, he sleeps with a hydrogen inhaler.

Like many others, Keith is a biohacker. He believes biohacking is simply living well with the help of science.
Biohacking, as a term, has been used extensively in all forms of media. A fad that originally began in Silicon Valley has slowly taken over the world and beyond. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, one of the popular biohackers, was recently quoted enjoying fasting intermittently and drinking salt juice in the morning. 

Make-yourself-into-something-more-than-human-This-is-the-promise-of-biohacking-scoolbuzz
It covers a huge range of activities, but generally speaking it is the idea that applying systems-thinking to human biology

What is Biohacking?

In the pop culture reference,  biohacking is a fairly broad and ambiguous term. It can involve all sorts of activities aimed at improving the cognitive and physical abilities of a person. The plethora of activities under biohacking includes blood transfusions, experimenting on yeast, eating dietary supplements and much more.

Biohacking is a fairly broad and ambiguous term. It can involve all sorts of activities aimed at improving the cognitive and physical abilities of a person. The plethora of activities under biohacking includes blood transfusions, experimenting on yeast, eating dietary supplements and much more.

Recently, biohacking has been found to be a great subject to make content on. So, as per the current scenario, the most popular biohackers are people who experiment outside of the lab. These people have come to form one branch of transhumanism – a movement where people believe they should use science to live a better, healthier life.
However, there are plenty of extreme pursuits as well.

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Cryotherapy is relatively new, so any benefits are yet to be proven.

Cryotherapy

This includes the practice of purposely making yourself cold to freeze and remove any abnormal tissue. It also helps in reducing weight and can help with muscle and joint disorders.

Neurofeedback

Here, subjects respond to their own brain waves or any other electrical activity of the nervous system. It is useful for many brain-related conditions like Parkinson’s or to tackle pain, addictions or autism.

Near-infrared saunas

This is a kind of sauna that uses light to create heat. It can help the body with joint or muscle pain, thyroid disease, digestions, cell repair etc.

Virtual float tanks

 

These tanks are primarily used for relaxation. The water(with Epsom Salts) is extremely buoyant and makes it easy to float. The tank holding water reduces external stimulation such as sound, light and touch.

Biohacking-is-a-do-it-yourself-citizen-science-merging-body-modification-with-technology-scoolbuzz
Biohacking is a do-it-yourself citizen science merging body modification with technology. The motivations of biohackers include cybernetic exploration, personal data acquisition, and advocating for privacy rights and open-source medicine.

How is biohacking different from modern medicine?

There are some Biohacks that have been perfected and improved to genuinely improve the health of humans. However, since this fad came about, there have been a lot of cases without any record of research backing any of the practices undertaken by people. For example, there is ample research to show meditation helps with depression, anxiety and chronic pain. People are also taking it up as a form of biohacking. Similarly, Sauna Space only gained popularity after Dorsey endorsed its benefits. There has not been any particular study showing it actually fights ageing. So, there are practices of all kinds. 

With so many techniques under the umbrella term of Biohacks, what sets it apart from traditional medicine?
Rob Carlson, an expert on synthetics Biology, has been advocating for biohacking since the 2000s. He says, “all of the modern medicine is hacking.” By that logic, practices like meditation, fasting or even spin classes and antidepressants can also be considered biohacking.

The idea of biohacking is different from modern medicine because it is not looking at the activities undertaken as a remedy to a physiological problem. Biohacking is undertaken with the mindset that we can control our bodies and make them function in a more optimising manner. The emphasis is on improving now with the help of science.

efficacy-of-the-blood-transfusion-treatment-scoolbuzz
New research found that blood plasma infusions from young donors resulted in some signs of improvement in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Extreme cases of biohacking

Zoltan Istvan, a popular Transhumanist, says having an implant is fun and convenient. He has an implanted device in his body. It allows him to open doors and monitor glucose levels subcutaneously. He says, “The electric lock on the front door of my house has a chip scanner, and it’s nice to go surfing and jogging without having to carry keys around.”
Istvan belongs to a rather daredevil group of biohackers, who are called grinders. They go so far as implanting small chips in their bodies and doing alterations to their human form.

There is another kind of human augmenters who use medical procedures to their benefit. Dave Asprey, the founder of brand Bulletproof, has stem cells from his bone marrow injected into every joint in his body. This was a part of his quest to live for 180 years. He also regularly spends time in a hyperbaric chamber. This chamber deprives his cells of oxygen to improve the function of his brain and muscle tissue. This would, in turn, reverse ageing.

The idea of biohacking is different from modern medicine because it is not looking at the activities undertaken as a remedy to a physiological problem. Biohacking is undertaken with the mindset that we can control our bodies and make them function in a more optimising manner. The emphasis is on improving now with the help of science.

Should you try biohacking?

Biohacking as a practice isn’t bad. However, a few extreme practices are garnering a bad reputation. If someone really wishes to hack your body into performing better, it is a wise idea to conduct research before diving deep. Choose a science or an activity that is well-backed by research or does not have many side-effects.
The search for better technology to pursue biohackers’ goals of living longer will not lose its momentum anytime soon. So, it is likely that there will be more biohacking for living healthier.

People all over are hacking their way to live healthier, longer life. There is intermittent fasting, near-infrared saunas, cyrotherapy chambers, and what not. But, can science really stop ageing and make you live longer?

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