What if there was a way to make simple tweaks to your daily routine, to improve your cognition, metabolism, and general life satisfaction?
Well, there is a way. In fact, there are many, and I’ll be sharing a few of them with you today.
The term “bio-hacking” gets thrown around often these days. It’s in anywhere from BuzzFeed articles to Cosmopolitan magazines. However, in its simplest form, it means achieving an optimal state of health through taking a “systems approach to our biology.”
So, without further ado, let’s crack into it:
1. Intermittent Fasting
When we are asleep, we’re in a state of complete homeostasis. As morning approaches, our body hits us with a mild spike of cortisol (stress hormone) to wake us up, and many of us are quick to scarf down a meal. We’ve all heard the phrase “breakfast is the most important meal of the day“—but is it, really?
What we aren’t told is that we are most sensitive to insulin in the morning. Thus, with a sharp rise in insulin from our breakfast, we experience a sharp drop somewhere around brunch, leaving us often feeling exhausted. If we instead briefly abstained from calories and opted for water, black coffee, and other non-caloric beverages, we’d see these benefits.
First, fasting induces cellular autophagy. Cellular autophagy is the process in which our bodies remove toxins and harmful chemicals from our cells, thus being essential in fighting disease and anti-aging.
Second, fasting boosts cognition. Fasting improves a variety of metabolic features known for their positive impact on the brain. This includes reduced inflammation and oxidative stress.
Third, fasting promotes an “anabolic environment,” which essentially makes our bodies more sensitive to protective hormones. It increases hormones like growth hormone, which makes it easier to get/stay lean and build muscle.
However, we don’t have to participate in lengthy fasts to reap these benefits. At the 12-hour point, our bodies switch from burning glucose (sugar) for fuel to burning our fat stores. Simply skipping breakfast and opting for brunch will allow us to achieve an optimal 16-hour fast.
For example, this might look like eating dinner at 7 p.m., sleeping, then eating your first meal at around 10 or 11 a.m. Not so bad, right?
A last note on this, above all, I encourage you to listen to your body. Although fasting works many people, it may not be right for some of us. We’re better suited than anyone else to intuit what’s right for our bodies, and choose actions accordingly. For those who still opt for a morning snack, we can choose low-glycemic foods, such as fruit, which will leave us feeling clear and without an imminent sugar crash.
2. Body Language
Maintaining healthy posture seems like an arbitrary rule. However, it assures that we have optimal airflow and that our bodies are literally more expansive. When our airflow is optimal, we are more energized, less stressed, and more present. In addition, our body language can have a direct impact on our hormonal health.
In a TED talk by Amy Cuddy titled “Your body language may shape who you are,” Cuddy states that simply holding a “power pose” for two minutes causes a substantial increase in protective hormones.
Cuddy observed two groups—one holding high-power poses and one holding low-power poses—and these were her findings: “Only a mere 2 minutes of holding a ‘power-pose’ was enough to increase testosterone levels by 20%, whereas the stress hormone cortisol also decreased by -25%. The ‘low-power’ group saw a -10% reduction in salivary testosterone levels and a 15% increase in the stress hormone cortisol.”
These findings are remarkable because they prove that a simple tweak in our body language can have a large improvement on our sense of well-being. In addition, if we feel less stressed and more expansive, we can be more proactive in our day-to-day lives.
3. Eat with Micronutrient Density in Mind
This last suggestion is pretty intuitive but can actually lead to us reaping tremendous health benefits. Emphasizing foods such as fruits, berries, starchy vegetables, and pastured meats will provide our bodies with the essential nutrition it needs.
Many of the problems we incur are actually due to a deficiency in vitamins and minerals. These essential micronutrients are vitally important to our body’s ability to carry out metabolic tasks. However, more often than not, we eat foods completely void of nutrition. In fact, many population-wide studies have discovered that the average person is deficient in 6 to 10 of the key vitamins and minerals.
To make matters worse, when our bodies are deficient in nutrients for years, we can begin to develop thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, and more. Luckily, though, by consuming high-quality whole foods, we can begin to correct these deficiencies and work our way back to an optimal state of health.
Incorporate these suggestions slowly into your daily routine, and you’ll begin to see powerful changes in your mind and body. I suggest starting with one habit at a time and allowing it to fully integrate before moving on to the next.