For transhumanists and biohackers, the allure of pushing the human body beyond its normal abilities is tempting. These body enhancers make a go at it with backyard biotech, dietary extremes like fasting, even swallowing pills and other supplemental remedies.
The metaphor that comes to mind is investments. To the inexperienced investor, making paper investments sounds like a wonderful world of profit without labor.
A nascent investor may even scrounge up enough cash to make an investment, all while credit bills pile to the ceiling with soaring interest rates. Even if he makes wise investments, the compounded interest of his bills negates the gains.
The better plan would be to pay down the bad debt, save, then invest.
To build something, anything, we need a solid foundation. This is not unlike what we need in the transhumanist movement.
Before one searches for ways to push the body’s capabilities beyond the benchmark, operating at that bench is step one. Anything else is like tightrope walking blindfolded.
The perceptions around hydration sometimes exceed the actual value. At one time, carrying a water bottle imbued one with virtues. (Thank you to the 1990s.)
Water is the cornerstone to many diets, but at one time it was the lynchpin like one could score perfect health, lose weight, find happiness (and Jimmy Hoffa) all by drinking enough water.
This not to say hydration isn’t important. There is a flood of peer-reviewed research touting water’s actual virtues. Drops as low as 1–2 percent in hydration can impact motor function, but over-hydrating can also cause problems.
One solution for this challenge is the growing number of wearables designed to track hydration. One example, the LVL tracker, for which do we collect an affiliate payout, is a wearable concept we love at Bodyhacks.
So did others. It surpassed its Kickstarter goals by 24x ($1,186,983 pledged of $50,000 goal).
Quality sleep is so critical, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:
“The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.”
It’s reasonable to expect that most of are know all of this without the voice of an authority to tell us so. We feel it. The hurdle is navigating the myriad of challenges one may face trying to get quality sleep.
The easy solution is a pill or a liquid, something to help us “wake up.” Nootropic solutions may bridge the gaps, but they don’t solve for aspects of our sleep program that we may be able to solve without help.
If we’re tired, we must ask ourselves if overriding the desire to sleep is the best thing. Perhaps what we need, rather than more stimulants, is more sleep?
Making a case for better sleep is like preaching to the sheep. The harder case to argue is meditation. We could spend blogs covering this subject. The mounting and credible evidence for the value of keeping a practice is unarguable. One recent Harvard
We could spend blogs covering this subject. The mounting and credible evidence for the value of keeping a meditation practice is unarguable. One recent Harvard
One recent Harvard study found that “meditation may be associated with structural changes in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.”
In other words, meditation doesn’t only change the way one’s brain operates, it changes the brain itself. That’s a transhumanist move right there, but with no scalpel.
The data from that same study suggests that it, “may impact age-related declines in cortical structure.” The challenge would-be meditators run up against is time.
What is too tempting is to shortcut with nootropics (again), but there is nothing on the market that can supplement a meditation practice.
Start with five minutes a day. Stay at five minutes as long as you need to build your habit, but don’t skip days.
This is the area where, as a fitness professional, I know people struggle the most. It’s easier to buy a new mattress, drink more water and close one’s eyes to meditate than it is to give up yummy snacks.
Our challenges with food our layered, and unique. One man’s broccoli is another man’s ice-cream. Adding to that misery is the non-stop nutritional guru machine, cranking out new diet revolution books.
To borrow our metaphor from the beginning, it’s like managing money. One feels like he needs a certification to take a crack at the subject.
What you already know is the plan: eating whole food sources, getting enough protein, cutting down on sugar and salt, minimizing your fat intake (or not, my caveman diet friends) but you’ve heard it.
The higher hurdle is the discipline you need to make new choices. Until you are ready to tackle your intake, your efforts to hack the human body are like investing without experience.
If we were to rank the value of each aspect by the number of studies assessing their respective value, then plotted them on a graph, the line connecting them would rise at a constant until this point.
At exercise, we would see the line curve exponentially. It would be pointless to cite the value of exercise. What would be more interesting to measure is the number of people who attempt to hack the body, but don’t participate in regular exercise.
With all five in place as regular facets of one’s lifestyle, then and only then, is that individual in a position to see the lengths to which we can improve the human experience.
Most folks in the biohacking or transhuman spheres are not there yet. They’ve skipped the most basic hacks, trying to day trade when they don’t even have savings accounts.
The best thing about everything on this list (other than the wearable mentioned) is in reach without spending a dime.