Biohacking is a new health trend that encourages people to improve their health at a cellular level. This is done through a series of blood tests, or sometimes urine, to analyze the micronutrient levels in the blood. This data can identify any possible deficiencies or low vitamin levels that may increase the risk of illness later on.
Biohacking may appeal to people who enjoy collecting large amounts of data about their health.
Most people can improve their vitamin and biological health markers through dietary changes.
You don’t need to buy an expensive micronutrient test kit you can ask your doctor for a simple blood requisition to check your levels.
This article will explore biohacking and the ways you can start implementing it in your life.
What are micronutrients?
Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals, supporting your immune system in preventing disease. They are also key players in cell signaling, new cell development, nerve function, and some vitamins even help with wound healing.
Most people can satisfy their micronutrient needs by eating a varied diet. Certain people are at higher risk for deficiencies because their nutrient needs are very high, such as pregnant women, or they follow a restricted diet, such as veganism. If you fit into either of these categories, you may need a supplement to satisfy your vitamin requirements in addition to your diet.
Undiagnosed chronic vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be serious to your health. If you have concerns or notice new unusual symptoms, you should meet with your doctor and complete a blood test.
Right now, scientific literature has not concluded that an expensive micronutrient test — which analyzes 30+ micronutrients — is better for your health than a standard blood test. There is also very limited evidence to show premium micronutrient test kits are accurate.
What are macronutrients?
Macronutrients provide your body with energy in the form of calories. The three primary energy sources we rely on daily include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. On top of providing your body with usable energy, macronutrients also contain micronutrients. Eating a varied diet that includes foods from all food groups is important for your health.
The purpose of macronutrients
Each macronutrient serves a deeper purpose than just providing calories:
- Carbohydrates. Your body’s primary fuel source and the only energy source that can cross your blood-brain barrier to nourish your brain. Ideally, you should choose high-fiber carbohydrates that have been minimally processed. These food sources contain higher levels of vitamins, such as folate, which your body needs to build new cells daily. Pick whole grains over processed flour whenever possible. Fruits and starchy vegetables are also natural carbohydrate sources rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Protein. Foods that are high in protein are rich in amino acids. These acids are the building blocks of the body. They build hormones, cells, and repair tissues throughout the body. Adding lean proteins to your meals also helps you feel full and satisfied. You can regularly include lean animal proteins throughout the week, but new research suggests that adding a plant-based protein (legumes, pulses, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds) occasionally could be beneficial for your health and your wallet.
- Fat. Fat adds flavor to food and also helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Similar to protein, high-quality fats also help you feel full after eating. When it comes to adding fat to your diet, choose lean options that are high in unsaturated fat. These include nuts, avocados, and different plant-based oils for cooking.
Biohacking influence on diet
Sometimes you may have low vitamin levels without experiencing symptoms until it develops into a more severe deficiency. This can happen with iron, which is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in America. Having bloodwork done and being aware of any potential low nutrient levels can motivate you to take a proactive approach to your health.
Another common deficiency includes low vitamin B12. This vitamin is found in animal products, including meats and byproducts such as cheese, yogurts, eggs, and milk. If you do not eat these foods, you may want to add fortified foods to your diet, such as nutritional yeast or a taking a supplement. Chronic low levels of B12 can lead to macrocytic anemia, a condition that can impair memory, and cause mood disturbances and loss of balance.
Ways to start biohacking
Start with small changes and collect data on how you feel during and after the change. You can collect this information by journaling or using an app. Keep in mind that change takes time, and your body will need time to adjust.
Your individual health goals will influence which parts of your diet you change. Examples of goals that might appeal to you include:
- Consistently eating breakfast every day.
- Adding fresh vegetables to lunch.
- Buying whole-grain bread.
- Choosing water over sodas.
- Making food at home instead of buying out.
- Eating a plant-based protein for one meal.
The best way to meet your nutritional needs is to add variety to your diet. Many people can satisfy their micronutrient needs and optimize their health through food.
Food is more than just nutrients
Choosing foods exclusively based on their biohacking abilities can start to feel limiting for some people. Following a nutritious diet rich in high-fiber foods most of the week is recommended, but enjoying a takeout option occasionally will not harm your overall health.
If you start to over-restrict foods from your diet, you may develop disordered eating habits, which can escalate to a diagnosable eating disorder. Research has also shown that restricting foods can actually enhance cravings for that item. You should build a diet plan that includes all your favorite foods and brings you closer to your health goals.