Biohacking on a Budget: Affordable Upgrades You Can Do Right Now
By: DAVE ASPREY
* This article is a repost which originally appeared on The Bulletproof Blog.
Article at a Glance:
- Biohacking doesn’t necessarily mean getting stem cell injections or hopping in a cryotherapy chamber.
- Anything you do that helps you take control of your biology qualifies as biohacking.
- That includes affordable upgrades like improving your sleep quality, reducing stress, and moving more.
- I plan to live to 180. Yeah, I’m using advanced anti-aging methods to make that goal a reality, but you don’t have to break the bank to improve your quality of life.
Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you, and inside of you, so you have full control of your own biology. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting stem cell injections or hopping in a cryotherapy chamber. In fact, anything you do that helps you kick more ass and experience a state of high performance is a biohack — even if it’s as simple as putting away your phone. Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite affordable upgrades you can start today.
1. Change your bedtime routine
This is literally one of the most important upgrades you can make, which is why I’m listing it first. In order to improve brain function, promote muscle repair, balance your hormones, and boost your mood, go the heck to sleep. The best part is that it costs virtually nothing to improve your sleep quality:
- Don’t drink coffee 8 hours before bedtime: Coffee is great for you. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help you get rid of free radicals so you can feel great all day, it keeps you alert, and it tastes good. But it also keeps you awake. Switch to decaf after 2 p.m. or at least 8 hours before bedtime, whichever comes first. Don’t worry — high-quality decaf coffee is still a superfood.
- Limit blue and bright light: Blue light, aka the light from screens like your laptop, phone, and TV, keeps you awake and messes with your circadian rhythm. Put your phone away after dark. If you have to look at screens, use a free blue light filtering software like f.lux or turn on “Night Shift” mode on your phone or laptop. Bonus points if you schedule the filter to turn on automatically after sundown — talk about seamless upgrades.
- Sleep in a cave: By that, I mean your room should be as cold and as pitch-black as possible. You’ll have an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep if you keep your bedroom around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off electronics in the bedroom to avoid blue light exposure, and draw the blinds so you don’t get any ambient light through your window.
Learn more about sleep upgrades with the Bulletproof 30-Day Sleep Challenge
2. Take a cold shower
Yeah, you’re going to hate me for recommending this one, but it makes a big difference and you’ll thank me later. When you’re exposed to extreme cold, your body responds by increasing your metabolism to heat back up. You burn fat through a process called cold thermogenesis, which also reduces inflammation and increases blood circulation.
At the end of your next shower, stand under the faucet so the water hits you directly in the forehead. A ton of your cold receptors are on your forehead and chest. Then, turn the heat off and force yourself to stand under the cold water for 10 seconds. If a shower isn’t doing it for you, try this easy ice face hack to get the benefits of cold exposure without having to take a full-body cold plunge.
3. Experiment with styles of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is simple: Eat less frequently. When you intentionally limit your eating window, you give your body time to digest your food, repair your cells, and avoid mojo-stealing blood sugar crashes.
You don’t even have to eat less — just eat less frequently. If you follow the Bulletproof Diet, you’re probably familiar with Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting — I developed this style of eating as an approachable way to kickstart cellular repair, boost your energy, and enjoy laser-sharp focus all day long, without feeling hangry. You start each morning with a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, which contains good sources of healthy fats that will keep you full until lunch.
Here’s a guide to a few popular styles of intermittent fasting. Like all biohacks, it’s important to experiment and discover what works best for your schedule, your biology, and your personal preferences. You might enjoy the one-meal-a-day (OMAD) diet, or you might prefer to stop eating after sundown. Do what works for you.
4. Eliminate the foods that make you weak
I’m holding out hope that organic, non-GMO, wild-caught, grass-fed food will become more widely available (and cheaper) in the near future. While farmer’s markets and subscription services like ButcherBox make it easier to eat food that’s actually good for you, there are a few cost-effective swaps you can make to limit your exposure to foods that are proven to contribute to inflammation, brain fog, and digestive stress:
- Eat less meat. Yeah, industrial meat is cheap, but that doesn’t mean you should buy bottom-shelf chuck by the bucket. It’s so loaded with antibiotics and pesticides that you’ll end up paying more down the line — in healthcare costs. Buy grass-fed, wild-caught food as often as possible, but eat less of it. Instead, load your plate with organic produce, healthy fats like grass-fed butter and coconut oil, and the occasional nutrient-dense carb.
- Ditch gluten, excess sugar, and most dairy. Among other issues, grain-fed dairy is inflammatory, gluten makes you fat, and excess sugar wrecks your gut bacteria. The cost-effective solution? Don’t buy these foods, or at least eat them less frequently. If you feel like you can’t live without bread, then bookmark these 30 keto bread recipes.
5. Pay attention to your gut
Did you know that your gut bacteria control your mind? Your gut is in constant communication with your brain via a nerve pathway called the gut-brain axis. It controls way more than you think — like your mood, stress levels, sleep, weight, and, yup, your digestion.
You, as a budding biohacker, have the power to understand what’s happening in your gut and use that data to tweak your diet. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your poop. It’s free, it happens every day (or it should), and it’s an easy, albeit slightly gross, way to understand what’s happening in your digestive system. Check out this poop chart for more info.
Can’t poop? Drink more water and eat high-fat foods. Dealing with frequent diarrhea? Eat prebiotic-rich foods like sweet potato and carrots. Pooping three or more times a day? Load up on fiber-rich vegetables. Every time you change something in your diet, take a look at your poop — it’ll help you understand if you’re moving your digestion in the right direction.
6. Manage your stress
This is another biohack that is incredibly effective, but doesn’t have to cost a single penny. A little bit of stress is good for you, but too much weakens your immune system, makes you fat, shortens your lifespan, and makes your hair fall out. No thanks.
Check out this definitive guide to stress management techniques. Here’s the TL;DR version:
- Practice gratitude: It literally rewires your brain, and it’s super easy to do any time of day. Every night before we go to sleep, I ask my kids to share three gratitudes. Some people do this right when they wake up in a journal, or right before they go to bed. Schedule time for gratitude and you’ll like the way it reframes even the most frustrating parts of your day.
- Meditate: Meditation has been shown to significantly reduce levels of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. It’s easy to start — just check out this guided meditation challenge.
- Reduce decision fatigue: Making too many decisions all day saps your willpower and mental energy — which will stress you out, whether you’re a high-powered CEO or a busy parent (or both). Check out this list of 30 ways to avoid decision fatigue.
7. Move more, especially in the sun
Your body was made to move, not sit behind a desk, in a car, and on the couch for most of the day. Exercise improves your brain function so you’re more resilient to stress, eases muscular tension so you can rock all day long, and helps you sleep better. Those are all key benefits to maintain your longevity and brain health. In fact, a study found that a hormone released during exercise may protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
Not sure how to sneak more movement into your day? Alternate between 1 minute of burpees and 1 minute of rest while watching TV. Stand and walk around while you take your phone calls at work. Stretch as soon as you wake up. Check out this list for more ideas.
Oh, and take a walk outside in the sun. Light is a nutrient, and sunlight is good for you. It triggers the production of vitamin D, testosterone, endorphins, and dopamine, to name a few. Plus, warm sunlight feels good on your skin, and you probably aren’t getting enough of it.
Look, I plan on living until I’m 180. Yeah, I’ve used advanced anti-aging techniques to make my goal a reality. We also have documented cases of people living beyond 100 without anything more advanced than a low-toxin diet, sunshine, and regular physical activity.
Biohacking doesn’t have to be some big, complicated endeavor that involves beeping machines and sci-fi beauty serums. It can be as simple as taking a walk in the sunshine and appreciating the warmth on your skin. Isn’t that beautiful?