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How to Biohack Longevity and Optimize Your Life – Part Two, “The Brain”
Welcome to part two of our three-part series on biohacking. We started last week with "The Body," beginning our quest guiding you through the cheat codes for optimizing and extending your life. This series uses everything from the wisdom of sages to breakthroughs in science and technology to improve your body, brain, and soul.
In case you missed it, let's discuss what biohacking means. Bio is short for biology, and hack in this sense means to manipulate. Think of it as do-it-yourself biology for self-improvement. These are small changes with possibly exponential impact.
This article is not medical advice. Some of the suggestions below may have adverse health consequences if not conducted under proper medical supervision. Proceed with caution and investigate all the risks before attempting any biohack.
This week we tackle your mind and help you discover the hacks that make you smarter, increase your mental agility, and maintain your sanity. Here we go!
Your brain is the world's most advanced supercomputer. Like any other computer, it requires the correct programming, scheduled reboots, and protection from malicious invaders to operate efficiently.
Get Enough Rest
As we did in "The Body" article, we'll start with the basics and move to the more advanced hacks. It doesn't get more basic than sleep. Every living organism requires rest, yet for some reason, humans think sleep is optional. If you're one of those people who believe they can survive on four to five hours of sleep every night, you're mistaken.
The brain requires deep sleep for repair, recovery, and memory consolidation. When you limit your sleep to fewer than eight hours, your brain cannot reach the deep sleep phase. Too many of us have trouble getting into the latter stage of sleep due to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
The biohack for this is simple, and you've probably heard people talk about blue light. Blue light is the artificial light emanating from your screens (TV, laptop, tablet, etc.) and your household bulbs.
Aside from limiting your exposure to screens at least an hour before bedtime and switching them to nighttime mode whenever it's dark outside, there's another hack for this problem.
Expose yourself only to red light at night. A couple of ways you can do this are changing all your bulbs to red or invest in color-changing smart bulbs. Red light allows your brain access to its natural circadian rhythm, while blue light interrupts it.
Another more expensive but effective hack is investing in an in-ear light device. These sunlight mimicking ear pods channel a green-blue light spectrum to keep your circadian rhythm in tune, fight jet lag, and enhance cognitive function.
Plug Your Leaks
Did you know that your brain can have leaks? The blood-brain barrier keeps toxins and other bad actors out of your computer. By keeping your barrier healthy, your brain maintains its operational efficiency.
This hack is cheap and easy but could be a shock to your system. Unlike The Wall in Game of Thrones, the border in your head receives protection from the White Walkers. Cold exposure works spectacularly to maintain the barrier.
Cold exposure is as easy as turning the handle in your shower. Take your regular shower at whatever temperature you prefer, and at the end, turn to the coldest water possible. Stand under the icy deluge for at least twenty seconds or longer if you can stand it. Repeat the process two or three more times.
This hack is intimidating at first, but once you do it a few times, the natural rush from the cold water becomes addictive. The exhilaration should be intense and, in addition to protecting your blood-brain barrier, will energize your entire system. Don't worry; it's a good kind of addiction.
The first thing you realize when that cold water hits your face is it immediately takes your breath away. Learning to breathe through stress is one of the best ways to control your mind and body. The hack is called box breathing, and you can do it anywhere and anytime you need to relieve stress or improve concentration.
Start by inhaling deeply to a count of four, hold for another four-count, and exhale for a final four seconds. These counts are slow like one Mississippi, two Mississippi, not a quick 1,2, 3, 4. Repeat as many times as necessary until a feeling of relaxation takes over your mind. As your breathing practice improves, lengthen the inhale, hold, and exhale durations.
Eat for Memory
Yeah, we know that eating healthy isn't exactly breaking news, but specific foods enable you to eat your way to better memory.
Before we get to the good stuff, let's discuss possibly the worst food in your diet. Processed oils like vegetables and seeds wreak havoc on your cells and have a devastating effect on overall health. Quite simply, canola, soybean, cottonseed, peanut, sunflower, and other ultra-processed oils are toxic. We will go in-depth on the dangers of processed oils in the coming weeks on The Naked Truth.
For now, we'll stick to the memory-boosting foods that we all love and should incorporate into our diets more.
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
- Liver (okay, maybe we lied about foods we love, but liver provides a myriad of brain benefits that are difficult to find otherwise)
The motor neurons in the brain are the RAM of your computer and determine the speed at which you process information. The first thing you need to know is how fast they fire currently. Then, how to train them for a more rapid response time.
Test your speed with a CNS Tap Test. CNS stands for Computerized Neurocognitive Screening and determines the health and rate of your nervous system.
There are several ways to increase brain speed, including constantly challenging your brain with games and puzzles, aerobic exercise, and previously discussed hacks. The additional hack for brain speed is supplementing with nootropics.
Nootropics are often referred to as "smart drugs" and can improve your cognitive and physical abilities. Healthy individuals supplementing with nootropics may improve memory, learning, and concentration.
Some of the more popular nootropics are Bacopa Monnieri, L-theanine, Racetams, artichoke extract, and ginseng. While we don't recommend any particular nootropic, we suggest you do your research, take the CNS test, and see what works for you.
If you remember the movie, Limitless stars Bradley Cooper as a struggling writer who takes a pill enabling him to access 100% of his brain's capabilities. It's a movie, so it worked fantastically and caused a lot of problems.
While becoming limitless is a bit of a stretch, our final hack falls outside most people's comfort zone. We like to save the crazy for the end!
Everyone knows that cigarettes are awful for your health, and nicotine is addictive, but it's also a highly effective nootropic. Nicotine supercharges your brainpower.
Did we just recommend you start smoking? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, we don't "recommend" any nootropic. Our goal is to introduce you to biohacking ideas, and we expect you to investigate them and perform your due diligence fully.
The hack is micro-dosing nicotine to give your brain a boost. How you microdose is up to you, but shared hacks include chewing on a nicotine toothpick or using organic snus. DO NOT try a nicotine patch unless you're trying to quit a cigarette habit. Try micro-dosing nicotine only under a doctor's supervision.
Play It Safe
Each of us has slightly different body chemistry from the next guy, and all hacks don't work the same for everybody. Use this article only as a reference and conduct your own research. Let others be the human guinea pigs and learn from their experiences.
Next week we end our journey into biohacking when we discuss "The Soul."