“Bio­hack­ing” is the lat­est buzz­word in health— and a pow­er­ful tool for well­ness.

A hand­ful of nat­u­ral tricks can help you tap into the power of bio­hack­ing— the new buzz­word for any­thing that im­proves men­tal per­for­mance and en­ergy, and “hacks” your ge­netic makeup for a more vi­brant life

Better Nutrition - - NEWS - by Lisa Turner

Elec­tri­cal mus­cle stim­u­la­tion, cryother­apy at – 250° F, head­bands that en­cour­age blood fl ow to the brain— they’re all part of the new world of bio­hack­ing, a move­ment that aims to “hack” bi­ol­ogy with the goal of quickly and dra­mat­i­cally im­prov­ing per­for­mance, thoughts, be­hav­iors, and vi­tal­ity. In some cases, the prac­tices are so ex­treme— mag­nets sur­gi­cally in­serted into the fi ngers, wire­less tat­toos that track vi­tal body stats, mini com­put­ers im­planted un­der the skin, in­ject­ing genes to pro­mote mus­cle growth— that there’s talk of reg­u­lat­ing bio­hack­ers. But you don’t need to go to those lengths; just try these sim­ple tips that any­one can do at home.

Prac­tice Earth­ing

Also called “ground­ing,” this prac­tice in­volves walk­ing bare­foot for 20 min­utes per day— even in the win­ter— as a means of con­nect­ing with the nat­u­ral elec­tri­cal charges pro­duced by the Earth. It may sound odd, but re­search sug­gests that di­rect phys­i­cal con­tact with the vast sup­ply of elec­trons on the sur­face of the Earth can pro­mote phys­i­o­log­i­cal changes and benefi ts that in­clude bet­ter sleep, re­duced pain, en­hanced wound heal­ing, im­proved im­mune re­sponse, and preven­tion and treat­ment of chronic infl am­ma­tory and au­toim­mune dis­eases.

The the­ory is that the slight neg­a­tive charge from the Earth helps im­prove nor­mal func­tion­ing of all body sys­tems and re­sets the bi­o­log­i­cal clocks that reg­u­late body rhythms. Some earth­ing or ground­ing prac­ti­tion­ers even walk bare­foot in the snow for a few min­utes, which hints at another com­mon bio­hack: ice baths or freez­ing- cold show­ers are thought to de­crease mus­cle pain, in­crease fat burn­ing, and even im­prove mood and sleep.

In­ter­mit­tent Fast­ing

This is es­pe­cially help­ful if you feel as if you’ve tried ev­ery­thing to lose weight, heal di­ges­tion, and bal­ance blood sugar, and the re­sults have been less than sat­is­fac­tory. In­ter­mit­tent fast­ing in­volves re­strict­ing or elim­i­nat­ing food in a very specifi c pat­tern, which cre­ates a process called au­tophagy— the body’s re­sponse to per­ceived star­va­tion. In au­tophagy, the cells ap­pear to clear out waste more effi ciently, the re­sult be­ing pro­tec­tion from dis­ease, re­duced infl am­ma­tion, en­hanced cel­lu­lar en­ergy, and even an over­all re­sis­tance to ag­ing. Stud­ies sug­gest that in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing also im­proves di­ges­tion, bal­ances blood sugar, pro­motes weight loss, and nor­mal­izes sleep.

One way to do it: al­ter­nate- day fast­ing, in which you fast or re­duce caloric in­take to 500 calo­ries ev­ery other day, with nor­mal eat­ing on non- fast­ing days. Or try time- re­stricted eat­ing, in which you limit eat­ing to a set num­ber of hours. For ex­am­ple, you might stop eat­ing at 6 p. m. and then not eat again un­til 10 a. m. the next day. Of course, this method as­sumes that you’re fol­low­ing a clean, whole- foods diet based on abun­dant veg­eta­bles, lean pro­tein, and healthy fats. It won’t work if you’re binge­ing on ham­burg­ers, fries, and brown­ies on your “nor­mal” eat­ing days.

Go Dark

Look­ing for a quick, eff ec­tive way to im­prove mood, fo­cus, and stamina? Sleep bet­ter. Not nec­es­sar­ily more— just bet­ter. Dur­ing sleep, the body re­pairs cells, con­sol­i­dates mem­o­ries, and fl ushes out tox­ins as­so­ci­ated with neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion.

Start by turn­ing your bed­room into a sleep cave; to­tal dark­ness aff ects melanopsin in the eyes, pig­ments in the retina that im­pact the cir­ca­dian rhythm— the body’s bi­o­log­i­cal clock that reg­u­lates sleep/ wake cy­cles. In­vest in black­out shades or cur­tains, in­stall low- wattage light bulbs, un­plug any elec­tron­ics that emit LEDs, and be sure that the room is tem­per­a­ture- con­trolled— be­tween 60 and 68 de­grees is op­ti­mal.

Ad­di­tion­ally, earplugs and an eye mask can help shut out light and sound, or use a white noise ma­chine. Dis­en­gage from elec­tron­ics at least two hours be­fore bed— the blue light they emit has been shown to dis­rupt sleep— and dim lights. Stud­ies show that ex­po­sure to elec­tric light be­fore bed­time sup­presses mela­tonin, a hor­mone that pro­motes sleep. And try a sleep- pro­mot­ing sup­ple­ment stack that in­cludes mela­tonin, tryptophan, GABA, and mag­ne­sium.

Shake It Up

The fastest way to boost your work­out? Whole Body Vi­bra­tion train­ing ( WBV), a sys­tem that in­volves sit­ting, stand­ing, or work­ing out on a ma­chine with a vi­brat­ing plat­form. The in­tense vi­bra­tions from the ma­chine ac­ti­vate mo­tor neu­rons in the spinal cord and force the mus­cles to con­tract and re­lax dozens of times each sec­ond. The end re­sult, ac­cord­ing to some stud­ies, is in­creased strength, im­proved sta­bil­ity, and pos­si­bly en­hanced weight loss. A re­cent study found that WBV might be as eff ec­tive as ex­er­cise at com­bat­ing neg­a­tive con­se­quences of obe­sity and di­a­betes. It also sug­gested that WBV could help pre­vent bone loss. Most health clubs and gyms have vi­bra­tion plates or machines, so work with a qual­ifi ed trainer to set up a reg­i­men that works for you. Or check out WBV machines for home use. Aff ord­able op­tions in­clude the Pinty, Confi dence Fit­ness, VibePlate, and Ol­lieroo.

Stack Sup­ple­ments

Sup­ple­ment stack­ing, long used in the body­build­ing com­mu­nity, is sim­ply tak­ing mul­ti­ple vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, amino acids, or other com­pounds in a care­fully de­signed com­bi­na­tion. The idea is to en­hance the eff ec­tive­ness of each, while min­i­miz­ing pos­si­ble neg­a­tive eff ects. In bio­hack­ing, sup­ple­ment stacks usu­ally cen­ter around nootrop­ics— com­pounds that en­hance brain func­tion, bal­ance mood, im­prove cog­ni­tion, and sharpen fo­cus.

The sim­plest stack: com­bine caff eine with L- theanine— a com­pound found in tea that en­hances calm­ing al­pha brain waves— to in­crease fo­cus and en­ergy with­out jit­ters and anx­i­ety. Boost that sim­ple stack by adding vinpocetin­e, creatine, pyrrolo­quino­line quinone ( PQQ), phos­phatidylse­r­ine ( PS), and/ or acetyl- l- carnitine ( ALC) to en­hance mem­ory, clear brain fog, and pro­tect neu­rons. To im­prove mood, try rhodiola, l- tryptophan, B- vi­ta­min com­plex, GABA, and L- cit­rulline. And to calm anx­i­ety and stress, con­sider L- theanine, bacopa, pas­sionfl ower, mag­ne­sium, and lemon balm.

Stand Up

We spend count­less hours sit­ting at our desks, in our cars, or on the couch. That takes its toll on the body— ex­tended pe­ri­ods of sit­ting are strongly linked with chronic dis­ease and in­creased mor­tal­ity, as well as psy­cho­log­i­cal con­cerns in­clud­ing de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

If your job re­quires long hours of sit­ting, con­sider a stand­ing desk. High- end ver­sions in­clude tread­mills, but you can get an

ad­justable stand­ing desk for as lit­tle as $ 100. If you use a stand­ing desk, be sure your pos­ture’s good, vary your po­si­tion, wear com­fort­able shoes, and con­sider an anti- fa­tigue mat. Also, al­ter­nate be­tween stand­ing and sit­ting, ide­ally ev­ery 45 min­utes to an hour.

If a stand­ing desk isn’t an op­tion, try walk­ing around ev­ery 30 min­utes to keep blood fl ow­ing and give your back a break. Set timers to re­mind your­self.

To realign your spine af­ter hours of sit­ting, try this sim­ple ex­er­cise: lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90 de­gree an­gle and your feet and calves rest­ing on a chair or ta­ble. This al­lows your hip fl ex­ors and the mus­cles in your spine and neck to re­lease. Let your arms fall com­fort­ably to the side, palms up, and slightly draw your chin in. Take your at­ten­tion to your back and let the mus­cles re­lax un­til you feel your spine set­tling into the fl oor. This is also a great time to prac­tice med­i­ta­tion or deep breath­ing.

Hack Your Ner­vous Sys­tem

Med­i­ta­tion has been used for thou­sands of years to re­duce stress, im­prove sleep, and en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity and cre­ativ­ity, and mod­ern stud­ies show that those re­sults aren’t sub­jec­tive. Prac­tic­ing mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion for as lit­tle as eight weeks cre­ates mea­sur­able, struc­tural changes in brain re­gions as­so­ci­ated with mem­ory, sense of self, em­pa­thy, and stress.

You don’t have to med­i­tate for hours; 25– 30 min­utes a day is ideal, but even a few min­utes can calm the ner­vous sys­tem and slow heart rate. Some apps that can help: Headspace, Calm, Mind­ful­ness, and In­sight Timer. Or try this sim­ple prac­tice: sit com­fort­ably, close your eyes, and count to 10. Try not to be dis­tracted ( it’s harder than you may think). When you reach 10, re­peat as many times as you’d like. Or don’t even worry about stopping your thoughts— just let them come, and watch them with­out latch­ing on or get­ting in­volved. Imag­ine them as clouds, or leaves fall­ing from a tree.

Deep breath­ing is another easy way to hack your brain’s chem­istry. Stud­ies show that slow, deep breath­ing re­sets the au­to­nomic ner­vous sys­tem and ac­ti­vates the parasym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem, which calms and re­laxes the body. Just sit com­fort­ably, close your eyes, in­hale into your belly to the count of fi ve, pause, ex­hale for fi ve, pause, and re­peat.

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