This year Tallinn had an honor to host the Biohacker Summit 2018, held in our Creative City Telliskivi on 15th of September. I went there because of the “father of biohackers” Teemu Arina. Might be also known to you, my reader. But this was not all: they had experts in optimizing human performance, recovery, and longevity all the way from the US and even from Latvia. Not to mention Finland – the flagship of biohacking.
But let’s get one thing straight: who is a “biohacker” anyway? Is it some crazy scientist trying to hack its genes to find a secret potion against mortality? Nope, in reality, it’s much easier. Let me ask you some questions: imagine you have a car: okay. Would you put the wrong type of fuel in it, because it’s cheaper? No way! Would you check the engine, oils and take it to repair when something’s not running smoothly? Of course, right?
Now, imagine that car is you. Would you give yourself the wrong kind of food and supplements? Hell no! Would you go test your health indicators at least once a year to make sure everything is running smoothly? Maybe?
Have you ever done an allergy test and found out that you’re intolerant towards a certain food or ingredient? If you’re lactose intolerant, it’s easy to stay away from it, because you know it causes harm to you, right? But in many cases, we don’t know which substances are suitable or unsuitable for us and in which quantities. That’s what causes problems and that’s where biohacking comes into play.
By the way, you could already be a biohacker without even knowing it: do you have a smartwatch, track your physical performance or sleep patterns, track your supplement intake? Well, that’s already a big leap towards biohacking. It comes down to collecting data, tracking and analyzing it and converting it into valuable insights that help you optimize your health. Okay, here’s the official term for you as well: “Biohacking is the application of systems thinking and deep understanding of genetics, epigenetics, physiology, and nutrition to take your physical & mental performance, health and wellbeing to a new level”. Tommi Vaskivuo from Synlab said the golden words:
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
So start measuring and “decoding” as a biohacker would say. There are even different panel tests that you can choose from depending on your need: e.g Anemia panel, Health athlete panel, Heart panel, Allergy panel and a panel for vegetarians. Tommi says that the next level in testing is pharmacogenetic testing – a genetic testing which shows how your prescription drugs affect you, which dose you need, depending on slow metabolism vs fast metabolism.
The next speaker: Ivor Cummins from Ireland said that 20% of your efforts should give an 80% results – recognize the good-old Pareto principle here? His main point rolled around fat and the misleading marker of “bad cholesterol” – LDL which is not a big sign anymore for cardiovascular disease. In fact, there are 4 types of fat in our bodies – some of them more dangerous than it might look. A sad fact is that 65% of Americans over 45 y/o are diabetic or prediabetic, but this can be reversed with the right diet and lifestyle.
Siim Land from Estonia spoke about balancing the anabolic and catabolic cycles of life. As people age anabolic hormones drop, because growth hormone levels decrease, but again, this can be taken into control with the help of a ketogenic diet and our bodies’ ability to create a condition called “autophagy” – literally meaning healthy cells eating away the “old/bad ones”. This recovery system is anti-aging, reduces inflammation, can cure diseases, tumors and strengthens the immune system.
In the meantime, we had a refreshing speech about cold therapy from Kiki Bosch who is Freediving in Arctic waters. That might sound crazy, but as Kiki says: “When you are in touch with nature, you’re forced to look inside” and that’s when healing begins. Time for the “superstar”, Teemu to rock the stage! This time talking about not only hacking yourself but also your environment, your relationships, etc.
“Our biology responds to our environment, we are the products of the environment that we surround ourselves with”.
start with small things, small changes, set low goals – then it’s easier to stay on track and form a habit. He recommends reading the books: “Thinking Fast and Slow” and “The Power of Habit”. To track his behavior and keep his balance, Teemu is using tools Rescuetime and Habitify.me and as a humble person, he’s keeping a Gratitude Journal. In addition to starting his days with a cold shower, Teemu believes that growth happens in rest and that:
“Bioinformatics will be for health what the microscope was for biology”.
Stress management is a learnable skill he says – still hope for all the crazy multitaskers out there! Just take a deep breath, distance yourself from all the troubles and imagine the sunrise! Peace and see you at the next Biohackers Summit! Oh, and remember to get up and stretch once in a while, because sitting is announced to be the worst thing after smoking! Now confirmed by biohackers.