Biohacking is a very broad term that can encompass a wide variety of activities. The Cambridge dictionary has two definitions for what a biohacker is.
- “someone who is not an official expert or professional scientist, who does scientific experiments with biological material”
- “someone who uses technology, drugs, or other chemical substances such as hormones in an attempt to improve the condition of their body and mind”
The first definition refers to an individual who performs their own experiments in their own lab or basement without having a formal education on the topic. The latter definition refers to a person who wants to proactively optimize their body using unconventional methods involving technology (e.g. genetic tests and glucose monitors) and chemicals (e.g. using certain drugs or supplements).
A strong part of the biohacking mindset is the willingness to explore new methods, learn about the science and then improve themselves based on their findings.
What motivates biohacking?
We observed that there are three primary motivational factors that get people into biohacking. These are physical diseases, mental diseases, and curiosity.
Many of the people we have interviewed seem to have gotten into biohacking due to physical disease. Often people will have developed a disease to which they felt the treatment recommended by doctors was insufficient. They then end up taking it into their own hands, becoming extremely focused on how they could postpone/prevent the disease. This in turn led them to try the methods recommended by the biohacker community. Getting success from these methods is what ultimately turns them into biohackers, as they then want to further expand the measures they can take to improve their health.
Several of our interviewees have had mental illnesses at some stage in their life, typically stress or burnout. Turning their attention to tools such as mindfulness, cold showers and exercise seemed a gateway to the biohacking community as these are just a few of the tools in the biohacking toolbox. Another example of mental disease being a motivation for biohacking could be when you discover that you have a genetic predisposition to e.g. Alzheimer’s disease. Health authorities provide limited information for the prevention of Alzheimer’s onset. This resulted in one of our interviewees taking to biohacking and in turn ended up focusing on intermittent fasting, blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.
The last of the primary motivations for biohacking that we have observed is curiosity. A lot of people have been introduced to the term biohacking by colleagues or have simply seen something about it in a TV show or on the internet. Being driven by curiosity has then led them down the path of discovering what biohacking is all about and subsequently beginning to integrate it into their own lives.
It goes for both physical and mental disease, that a motivating factor can be disease running in the family. If you know or discover that a family member has a disease that you might have inherited a predisposition towards, it is a powerful motivator to attempt to avoid the onset of the given disease.
How can genetics help drive biohacking?
What we aim to provide at Pregenic is an easy to interpret genetic analysis and report. From this report our users will be able to discover the diseases that they have a higher than average predisposition to developing. Using this knowledge the user will be able to further specify their approach to biohacking by using specific technological, dietary and exercising habits. This will serve as an added layer of knowledge for the person who wants to understand themselves, their body and how it can be optimized. The proactive approach to health within the biohacker community is ahead of its time. Through our research and interviews we have heard incredible stories of transformation. People go from being extremely burnout and then using biohacking methods to going from that to becoming high performing individuals with excess amounts of energy.
These stories have even inspired the Pregenic team in many ways, as we are slowly beginning to implement simple biohacks like monitoring our sleep and wearing blue filter glasses.