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The beginner’s guide to biohacking


Beginner's guide to biohacking
Illustrations: Julia Wu
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There’s more to the Bulletproof lifestyle than butter coffee and hot kale smoothies—a lot more.

Sure, the dietary principles of Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof empire have pretty much become gospel among healthy types (fats are good, carbs and sugar not so much), but there are also dozens of non-food factors that the brand’s hardcore fans take into account when trying to boost their energy, increase their physical strength, and clarify their minds.

This practice of total-body optimization is called “biohacking”—but what is it exactly? “Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology,” Asprey explains. “It’s what you put in your mouth, it’s the air you breathe, it’s the light you’re exposed to. Most people have twice as much energy potential, but they’re doing hundreds of small things that hold them back.”

“Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology”

If you don’t know a biohacker yet, chances are you will soon—the concept is becoming so popular that there’s even a whole Bulletproof conference dedicated to it (the next one takes place this September in Pasadena, CA). “Biohacking has taken off at an incredible growth rate,” Asprey tells me. “When we started holding the conference three and a half years ago, 100 people came. This year, we’re expecting 3,000. It turns out a lot of people want to kick more ass.”

Apparently, those people will stop at nothing to fine-tune their bods and brains—during my recent hour-long conversation with Asprey at his newly opened Bulletproof Café in Downtown Los Angeles, he touched on everything from stem-cell transplants to injectable nutrients to cryotherapy and spiked mattresses, all believed to help make us harder, faster, and stronger (and yes, he’s tried them all). All of which makes for interesting coffee talk, but for the beginning biohacker, it’s more than a little intimidating.

That said, you don’t need to invest in an at-home hyperbaric oxygen pod right away in order to experiment with biohacking. In fact, says Asprey, some of the things that will make the biggest impact are the simplest—and he’s shared his favorites with Well+Good.

Keep reading for Dave Asprey’s guide to biohacking for beginners—the five things you can do right now to make yourself truly Bulletproof, beyond coffee.

Get Started

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What is biohacking

1. Approach your symptoms like a scientist

Okay, so this may seem like a no-brainer, but how often do you really look for the “why” if you’re laden with fatigue or have a headache? “The number one thing you can do as a biohacker is start paying attention to how you’re feeling,” says Asprey. “There’s always a reason, and the reason is always in the world around you.”

A biohacker, for instance, would never deal with insomnia by just accepting it and popping an Ambien—she’d examine everything from the temperature of her room to the time she shuts down her computer, looking for correlations to her symptoms. (And she might even use a tracker to do it.)

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What is biohacking

2. Get your light right

“The environmental factor I’m most concerned about right now is the shift to LED lighting in our homes,” says Asprey, who not-so-fondly calls it “junk light.” (Arianna Huffington will co-sign that.) “Our bodies didn’t evolve to have light without infrared rays, without ultraviolet rays, and five times more blue light than outdoor sunlight. Our cells are biologically sensitive to these things even if we don’t know they are,” he adds.

Asprey recommends switching to amber or red lightbulbs, installing a dimmer switch, and putting screen filters on your electronic devices to block the melatonin-suppressing blue light; he swears better sleep and more daytime energy will soon follow. (And if you have an iPhone, turn on the Night Shift feature.)

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What is biohacking

3. Invest in an air purifier

City dwellers, this one’s extra important for you: “Air quality is really critical because we have more pollutants in our air than we ever have,” Asprey insists.

He recommends getting an air purifier with a HEPA filter for your home, which can be especially helpful for those suffering from fatigue. “The idea is to get the particles out [of the air] so your immune system calms down a little bit and you have less inflammation,” he explains.

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Biohacking tips

4. Shake up your workouts—literally

Asprey is a big fan of whole-body vibration training—you know, the kind you do on a PowerPlate. “It’s a super-energizing technology that NASA figured out to help astronauts get their bone density and muscle tone back quickly,” he says of the tool, which involves standing on a pedestal that vibrates 30 times per second. “When you stand on one of those things, you’re causing lymphatic circulation—so your body can get rid of toxins more quickly, and you’re stimulating the nervous system and muscles.”

If you don’t have access to a PowerPlate, Bulletproof makes an at-home version that’s small enough to store under your bed. (Biohackers love their gadgets and tech toys, clearly.)

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Biohacking tips for mold

5. Avoid mold at all costs

“The single biggest thing that affects people dramatically is environmental mold,” says Asprey, echoing Dr. Leo Galland‘s allergy theory. “Roughly 100 million people in the US right now are operating with less control of their emotions and with brain fog, fatigue, and autoimmune conditions that are only explainable due to this problem.” (He should know—he made a documentary about it.)

Along with drinking mold-free coffee (like Bulletproof’s—the brand just launched two new dark roasts), Asprey also recommends getting a mold test kit for your home and taking action if any is detected. “When you clean up the source of it, it’s like your brain comes up to a new level,” he says. And that’s a version of hacking that we can get behind.

While you’re spiffing up your space, don’t forget to clean your office (it’s a hotbed of germs) and give your home a dose of probiotics. (Seriously!) And you might also want to take some decluttering advice from the reigning queen….