Biohacking is the art and science of finding and applying health tools to feel your best. Stacking is doing more than one biohack at a time. When juggling goals, relationships, and personal health, stacking saves time and may achieve greater results by combining two or more biohacking tools.
Biohacking is finding and implementing health tools to "hack" your unique biology and unlock your potential.
Stacking combines biohacks — the health tools that unlock your optimal health — to save the time of doing each separately.
By combining biohacks, you also refresh current health routines and discover new and different benefits.
The risks of stacking include multitasking excessively or developing an unhealthy obsession with biohacks.
Effective stacking requires keen intuition, common sense, and personalization to meet your unique health needs.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is a way to unlock the best version of yourself by "hacking" into your one-of-a-kind biology. It's different from other self-help tools because biohacking is based on personal experimentation to find which health tools work best for you.
Biohackers love new ideas and emerging science, often trialing do-it-yourself health tools to improve their wellness and productivity.
This approach stems partly from Silicon Valley's zeal for working long, productive hours and implementing novel ideas and technology. Biohacking also sprouted from the many Americans facing chronic illnesses without effective treatments offered in Western medicine.
- Wearables. A popular example of biohacking involves the use of wearable technologies, such as smart rings or sleep tracking rings. Wearables have biosensors to track your health and "hack" your biology to find which tools work best for sleep, diet, fitness, and other health goals.
- Nutrition. Another common biohack is adding nutrients and dietary supplements to your diet, targeting your unique needs. For example, if you need to increase your antioxidant intake, you might try a biohacker's recipe, like a hot berry drink each morning.
Essentially, biohacking is a modern term for trying new and ancient techniques to live your healthiest life.
Benefits of stacking
Daily biohacks can quickly devour hours of your day. Stacking combines biohacks to save the time of doing them separately. Blending two or more biohacks can produce better results than doing one alone. This effect is called synergy, which occurs when two things work better together than apart. The synergy of combining biohacks can also produce new effects, not just better ones. In addition, stacking may add freshness to a single health activity you've followed for a while.
Stacking a walk with meditation
For example, consider a walking meditation which is the Buddhist practice of being mindful of your body's sensations and movement while you walk.
Experts say a walking meditation is a form of mindfulness offering numerous mental and physical benefits. As you stroll, you focus on each movement, like lifting your leg and feeling it touch the earth again when you set it down. You then focus on connecting those movements to your breath. You can also add on some extras to really maximize your meditation walk such as:
- Stroll in the forest. If you do a walking meditation in a forest, you get the added benefit of forest bathing, a Japanese practice that, like meditation, calms your sympathetic nervous system and improves your memory and attention.
- Earthing. You can also add the benefit of earthing when you walk — or stand — barefoot during your meditative stroll. Also called grounding, earthing is a therapeutic biohack scientist are currently studying. Being barefoot outside may connect you to the beneficial electrical charges of the earth.
A barefoot walking meditation through a forest is a perfect example of stacking. You stack multiple health benefits to gain greater results and likely new insights from a fresh look at meditation, exercise, and nature.
Stacking from your desk
Blending biohacks while working at a desk is becoming increasingly popular. Sitting too much raises your risk of diabetes, cardiac disease, and even early death.
Adjustable desks allow workers to alternate between sitting and standing, which may burn more calories, improve your mood, and boost the productivity of some administrative tasks. However, we need more studies to be certain.
To stack more biohacks while you stand, try foam rolling the soles of your feet. Or consider slowly — very slowly — walking on a treadmill set beneath your desk while working and drinking lion's mane tea to boost your brain's productivity.
Stacking sleep biohacks
Many people blend biohacks to improve sleep. A blended biohack nighttime routine might look something like this:
- Blue light glasses. Data shows that wearing blue light glasses in the evening may reduce insomnia and, thus, improve mental health conditions.
- Hot bath with amino supplement. Before you go to bed, take a hot bath and an amino acid supplement to help your body build neurotransmitters like melatonin and serotonin.
- Warm socks. After you bathe, slip on warm socks (yes, studies suggest they help you fall asleep).
- Black-out blinds. Darken your room with black-out curtains or a sleep mask.
- Guided meditation. Finally, settle your mind by listening to a guided sleep meditation.
Stacking spiritual practices
In their book, How God Changes Your Brain, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and his research partner Mark Robert Waldman report some interesting findings.
Spiritual practices, even when stripped of religious beliefs, enhance the neural functioning of the brain in ways that improve physical and emotional health.Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman
Their book shows how contemplative practices like prayer and meditation change your brain to generate peacefulness, social awareness, and compassion.
But there's a catch. To achieve these results, one's spiritual practice needs to focus on love and goodness. Meditating on a fearful or angry God can injure the brain.
To freshen your spiritual connections, try stacking contemplative practices. Add sacred music (any music you find spiritual) before, during, or after your meditation practices. Sing along, if you can, either alone or with others. Studies suggest that when you listen to music or sing along, your emotional wellness and brain health are powerfully affected.
Stacking exercise biohacks
Biohacking workouts and weight loss are other popular trends, and there are endless ways to stack them. Some are clear-cut, like tracking your workout results or practicing breathing exercises during a speed walk.
Other fitness biohacks get more complex, like wearing ankle weights or a weighted vest during chores while listening to a podcast or completing a yoga set in a sauna. Some biohackers enjoy foam rolling during rest periods between weight-lifting repetitions. You can get even more creative, like Ben Greenfield, a fitness guru and biohacker who loves lifting weights underwater.
For training recovery, consider blending an ice bath with meditation to help you endure the frigid water and improve your focus.
Risks of stacking
Juggling several biohacks at once can be too distracting or keep you from reaping the full benefits of a single practice. As biohackers know, the trials and errors of personal experimentation are key to stacking success. It's essential to consider the impact of every biohack on your personal health, whether stacked or separate.
- Distractions. Stacking may cause unwanted interactions rather than beneficial synergy. Or, it may hinder your devotion to a particular activity you find essential to your health.
- Obsessions. Biohacking and stacking can become obsessions, defeating your pursuit of well-being. It may worsen an overly busy schedule when slowing down is what you need to improve wellness and productivity.
- Eating disorders. Experts also caution that biohackers obsessed with stacking diet and nutrition practices may develop orthorexia nervosa, which is an unhealthy preoccupation with eating healthy food.
While biohackers often discover impressive emerging science, they may also fall for scams and fraudulent longevity claims.
Tips for effective stacking
Effectively stacking biohacks requires wise intuition, common sense, and personalization.
- Research well. It can be safe to try new health biohacks that scientists have yet to thoroughly research as long as early studies are robust and risks are low. We must each learn to discern weak studies and obvious research bias, like a supplement company hiding its research funding for its own product.
- Know yourself. Knowing your unique biological needs and health conditions is imperative to personalizing the right biohacks. Some hacks and stacking techniques may worsen your health conditions while improving someone else's.
- Schedule downtime. To avoid becoming too obsessed, schedule downtime where there's no agenda and do whatever your mind and body need at that moment.
- Pay attention to loved ones. Also, minding your relationships helps you track unhealthy preoccupations. When you're obsessed, your close relationships will suffer.
Biohacking reflects people's desire to take charge of their own health. Like any good caregiver, however, you must hack your biology wisely and stack carefully to live your best and most vibrant life.
- Technological Forecasting and Social Change. The rise of biohacking: Tracing the emergence and evolution of DIY biology through online discussions.
- Joseph Goldstein. The experience of insight: a simple and direct guide to buddhist meditation.
- BMJ Open. Psychosocial singing interventions for the mental health and well-being of family careers of patients with cancer: results from a longitudinal controlled study.
- Frontiers in Psychology. The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: a meta-analytic review.
- Explore. Integrative and lifestyle medicine strategies should include Earthing (grounding): Review of research evidence and clinical observations.
- International Society for Chronobiology. Evening wear of blue-blocking glasses for sleep and mood disorders: a systematic review.
- Charles A Dana Foundation. Multicosts of Multitasking.
- MDPI. Are the Motives for Food Choices Different in Orthorexia Nervosa and Healthy Orthorexia?