Veronika Allister struggled with chronic illnesses, depression and burnout. Biohacking – a set of lifestyle changes that are said to lead to longevity – helped her on the road to recovery. What is the truth and can anyone "hack" their body?
A person who practices biohacking strives to be the best version of themselves. It is actually a holistic approach to health, combining scientific research, technology and the wisdom of our ancestors. A fascinating discipline that goes much further than just a healthy lifestyle.
Where to start if we wanted to get into it too?
First of all, you need to have objective data: values obtained from blood, urine or stool samples. And then you just start observing yourself more. A diary can be used for this, where you write down, for example, how you feel after waking up, how often you go to the toilet and what the stool looks like, or whether you have regular menstruation and whether you have pain during it or not. You also need to think and name where you are in life. For example, you tell yourself that you feel great right now, but you wish you had more energy and less frequent mood swings. And then you start looking for ways to make it happen. You will look at the basic pillars of biohacking: sleep, breath, diet, movement, sexual health and mental health, you will find quality sources of information and gradually immerse yourself in biohacking. The result should be a strategy designed specifically for your body. You set up some system,
Can you give a specific example?
For example, when I find that I'm having trouble falling asleep lately, I start practicing meditation, play Synctuition 3D music, take magnesium, write out my thoughts, and stop shining blue light on myself from screens after sunset. Over time, I began to apply these habits intuitively. The longer you walk that path and be aware of your body and your feelings, the deeper your natural connection with the body will become. In the end, you will find that you know best what is wrong with you and how to get out of it. Your body prepared these difficulties for you to listen to it better.
It seems to me that past generations have done biohacking unknowingly. Do you agree?
Certainly yes, but certainly not to such an extent and in such a coat as at present. Biohacking is not just a healthy lifestyle, and grandmother's advice is not enough for it. It's about finding the most efficient ways to be the best we can be.
Do we need pencil and paper to monitor our body?
It depends on what you want to achieve. In the beginning, it is certainly enough to write down observations in a diary. But if biohacking becomes fun, you can use various apps and tech toys to help you do it. For example, if you want to monitor how your brain waves react to meditation or breathing exercises, you can download the Muse app. I recommend the MyFlo app for tracking your menstrual cycle.
Are any dietary supplements used?
For the modern person who lives in the city, quality food supplements are important. New agricultural practices have caused that the soil does not contain sufficient amounts of substances that we need to get from it. So our food is not the same as before. In addition, minerals and other beneficial substances are difficult to absorb, which is mainly due to the fact that we have deviated from the so-called homeostasis, i.e. the state of balance. I recommend taking magnesium, ideally thirty minutes before bed to relax the muscles. In addition, high-quality omega.3, vitamin D 3 with K 2 and the so-called Black Stuff – extract from pine bark and chaga mushroom, which adjusts the intestinal microbiome.
Are relationships also part of biohacking?
Relationships affect our health much more than we think. We should all work on quality relationships that have depth and are conscious. You can have the best technology and nutritional supplements in the world, but if your relationships aren't working, you still won't feel fulfilled and happy. You might even be a lot more stressed, and as we know, stress is the biggest killer.
Can you elaborate on what a conscious relationship is?
That's probably for a separate book, but I'll try to keep it short. The cornerstone of a conscious relationship is living in the truth, being completely truthful and honest. This is something that takes courage and not everyone has it. We may not realize it, but many of us lie quite routinely. For example, we'll say we're stuck in traffic, but the reality is we wanted to sleep. But living in the truth all the time is a completely different game. No lie is innocent, a lie is a lie and the truth is the truth. Another thing follows from this, and that is conscious communication with your partner. We both need to be able to set healthy boundaries and say when we don't like something. But communication does not take place in such a way that we accuse each other of something. It is necessary to turn it around and talk about how we perceive the situation. Name your feelings and pains and accept that the other person's world may look different from ours.
So we have to accept the other as he is. Don't try to change him.
Yes, I think that is the third building block. To accept a partner with all the demons he has. Having a conscious relationship can be more challenging than one might imagine, but it is worth it. Being loved or being loved is simple, but knowing how to love? That really takes courage! For example, when your partner betrays you, or in your world it appears as betrayal, and you still trust him again. Or when he does something that is a complete "no" for you, and yet you continue on your journey together and accept that this is also him and this is what your relationship looks like. You are one and everything is interconnected. Your partner only mirrors your image - be it pleasant or vice versa. If you have the courage to live in truth, if you have the courage to love and be yourself, then a conscious relationship can be a path to enlightenment for you.
That actually sounds like a partially spiritual path…
Spirituality is about an individual's individual journey, biohacking is about the same. The path each of us takes is unique. However, biohacking has certain principles built on solid foundations - data. Spirituality is essential for a person's health, it can be seen beautifully, for example, in research conducted on people from the so-called blue zones - areas where people live to the highest ages. But if a person has a healthy body and mind, his spirituality grows by leaps and bounds, because his nervous system is better prepared for it.
Longevity is also talked about in connection with biohacking. How can you live to be a hundred in good health?
That's a great question. In healthcare, we talk about lifespan, but in biohacking we go further and talk about health-span, i.e. healthy lifespan. After all, no one wants to live to be 120 years old at the price of spending the last thirty years in a hospital on machines. The biological potential of a person is to live to be 120 years old, even in relatively good health. Today, there are technologies and ways to prolong a healthy life. Just don't skip the basics. And that's not technology, but diet, exercise, meaning in life, breathing, stress reduction, sleep and quality relationships. If these foundations are solid, you will create a resilient nervous system upon which to build a pyramid of longevity. And as we know, pyramids stand for a really long time and nothing can shake them. Resilience is at the heart of biohacking and overall human health. If you go the route of resilience,
The concept of biological age is also related to ageing. Explain how biological age differs from chronological age?
Biological or epigenetic age is a figure that tells us how old our body is. Our chronological age does not necessarily coincide with our biological age. Some people age faster, and some people age more slowly.
How do we find out our biological age?
We cannot find out much about biological age from blood, rather it is necessary to take samples from saliva. It is also good to know that the body is very complex. There are start-ups that will tell you the exact number, but I think it's more marketing. A person's biological age cannot be determined precisely. But we can find out at which levels its ageing is slowed down or accelerated. For example, it can be different at the cellular level and different within immunity. Thanks to this, it is then possible to say what to pay more attention to or what strategy to choose for improving health.
For some women, menopause is a sign of ageing. Can we also "hack" the menopause and manage it with aplomb?
We can certainly prepare better for this period of life. It's good to know that hot flashes are common, but they don't have to last long. Some women live in the belief that hot flushes are normal and that they will live with them for the rest of their lives. Cold therapy, being kind to yourself, various breathing techniques or kundalini yoga help women a lot. At the same time, it's good to talk about menopause, not to keep the change I'm experiencing to myself. If a woman knows how to work with stress and follows the path of resilience, then her transition to this period can be kind.
You mentioned cold therapy. What is the difference between cold therapy for women and for men?
I wrote an entire book on this topic, which I will publish in the fall of this year. I have not found a similar publication anywhere in the world, while the difference between cold therapy for men and women is striking. Women harden differently than men. During the period of menstruation or just before menstruation, I recommend hardening really gently, or not at all. During pregnancy, cold therapy is beneficial for a woman if she feels like it. In the sixth trimester, we don't really harden up, and during the breastfeeding period, it's again up to the woman and her feeling. Cold therapy is also very welcome during menopause.
Is biohacking the way or the goal?
A journey that is an end in itself.