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6 Times Biohacking Fitness Crosses the Line

Get plenty of examples of how and when biohacking can cross the line, and smarter, more natural, more ancestral alternatives to the current craze of cryotherapy, electrical muscle stimulation, digital meditation, nootropics, and strapping your own equivalent of a goat-limb prosthetic to your body.

By
Ben Greenfield,
November 28, 2016
Episode #313

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As you learned in last week’s episode, I’ve lately been “called out” quite a bit about my fringe, nerdy, technology-obsessed, biohacking shortcuts to achieve body and brain performance. In that episode, I presented natural alternatives to modern biohacks such as cryotherapy, electrical muscle stimulation and hypoxia.

In today’s article, which is Part 2 of this series, you’ll get plenty of examples of how and when biohacking can cross the line, and smarter, more natural, more ancestral alternatives to the current craze of cryotherapy, electrical muscle stimulation, digital meditation, nootropics, and strapping your own equivalent of a goat-limb prosthetic to your body.

1.) Vibration Platforms

Devices that shudder and shake as you stand on them may seem convenient, cool, and a highly technological new way to exercise, or to be able to recover faster, lift more weight, or sprint faster—all of which vibration has been shown to be able to do. And sure, these vibration platforms (and their slightly less sexy cousins: rebounding trampolines) definitely increase lymph flow and blood flow. I talk about these in Do Vibration Platforms Work for Fat Loss? But running in place and exercises like jumping jacks can offer very similar benefit and be a great alternative if you don’t have a vibration plate nearby or simply want one less item plugged into an electrical outlet in your home. Yep, you can just “bounce up and down” with no fancy biohacks required.

2.) Blue Light Therapy

On my blog at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, I have plenty of stories about new light-emitting devices—technology that stimulates photoreceptors in the ears or the eyes with light to normalize circadian rhythms, to stimulate mitochondria and to adjust the body to new time zone or eliminate jet lag. Take a look here, here, and here.  

These green and blue light producing devices can indeed be a great way to stimulate the brain and to normalize circadian rhythms. But there’s no better source of blue light out there than the morning and afternoon rays of sunshine, so before strapping on a biohacking headset or pair of blue light producing glasses, ask yourself if you can simply go on a walk in nature and get a dose of natural sun exposure instead.

3.) Electric Brain Stimulation

The claim behind electrical brain stimulation is that by attaching electrodes to your temples and running light electrical current through your brain, you can deal with anxiety and insomnia, increase your pain threshold, improve reasoning and alpha brain wave production and beyond.

For example, since the 1960’s, scientists have investigated transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS, and found that it can do all those things. But what they don’t know are the long-term effects, good or bad. That makes tDCS a gamble, especially if you self-administer it. Electroencephalography (EEG) based neurofeedback appears to be slightly more safe, but still an expensive and out-of-reach biohack for many.

Then there are headbands and meditation—devices that monitor your brain waves during meditation and generate sounds, binaural beats, voices and other digital projections to lull you into a deeper meditative state. I agree that these tools are convenient to walk you through a meditation or teach you meditation techniques, yet I’m still concerned about the amount of electrons and other non-native electronic singals projected into the body and brain by these devices.

Why not first look into other ways to stimulate the brain, such as riddles, crossword puzzles, board games, transcendental meditation, Kundalini yoga, or just a good meditation sit spot in nature?

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