Think you have to be a millionaire to take advantage of all that biohacking has to offer? Think again. These free daily biohacks won’t cost you a thing – and they might just change your life!
- Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT, CF-L1
If you know anything about biohacking, you probably know that it’s a popular trend for anyone with a penchant for DIY biology and the financial resources to test every new gadget that comes on the market.
But just because something is popular among celebrities and tech entrepreneurs doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for those of us with a more modest budget. As it turns out, some of the best daily biohacks are completely free.
As we discussed in our post on biohacking supplement protocols, ‘biohacking’ is simply the process of making specific, incremental changes in diet and lifestyle to change the chemistry and physiology of your body. And you’re in luck, because many of the daily biohacks we recommend to clients and elite-level athletes won’t cost you anything.
Here are the top 5 free daily biohacks we recommend you incorporate into your routine right away.
Red Light Therapy
Each of these biohacks requires no investment, no specialist treatments, just a little preparation and your willingness to make some day to day habit changes.
Let's dive deeper into each biohack.
1. Cold Therapy
Cold therapy has been part of the DIY recovery model for years – just try to forget that R.I.C.E. acronym that was every high school gym teacher’s mantra.
While applying an ice pack to injuries is certainly one aspect of cold therapy, it’s morphed into a full-body immersive experience in the 21st century thanks to early enthusiasts like Dutch extreme athlete and motivational speaker, Wim Hof, who popularized the concept in the early 2000s. According to Wim Hof and his devotees, full-body cold therapy can help speed up muscle recovery, reduce swelling, and treat systemic inflammation. These days, cold therapy has grown to such popularity you can find specialized cryotherapy clinics in most major cities, and popular ice-plunge traditions have cropped up around the world.
One of the main benefits of cold therapy is it trains the vagus nerve, the main contributor to the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” system) in charge of mood control, immune response, digestion, and even heart rate. This nerve builds connections from our brains to our digestive tract and sends critical updates on the status of our internal organs.
Training this nerve trains your brain and your body to handle stress more effectively, helps stabilize mood, and can even improve fatty acid mobilization. While you certainly can indulge in a cold therapy spa if you have one in your area, this is one biohack that you can do at home for absolutely zero cost at all.
All you have to do is turn the water to cold at the end of your morning shower and stay under the icy stream for a minimum of 2-3 minutes. Studies show this simple change can increase your white blood cell count, building your immunity naturally. This free daily biohack also increases alertness, mental clarity, energy, and even releases mood-boosting endorphins.
If you’re brave enough to take it a step further, soak in a full-body ice bath 2-3 times per week for 3-5 minutes. Ice baths are a superior cold therapy method to showers because your entire body is immersed.
Start at 1 minute and work your way up, using music and steady, controlled breathing to remain immersed as long as you can stand it without exceeding 15 minutes total. Once your time is up, get out, dry off, and enjoy starting the day with a clear mind and natural alertness and energy that’s better than any cup of coffee.
2. Red Light Therapy
Like all life on earth, human beings need sunlight. Exposure to UV rays allows your body to synthesize vitamin D, which is essential for optimal health. Yet too much sun exposure can damage the skin and even lead to the development of cancerous melanomas. With such conflicting data, how do you ensure you get the right amount of sun exposure for optimal health without putting yourself at risk?
The answer lies not in the duration of exposure, but the type. Researchers have found that red and infrared wavelengths have the ability to boost mitochondrial function, which amplifies cellular health and metabolism. This can have a number of observable benefits, such as reduced pain and inflammation, enhanced muscle recovery, better sleep, and better skin health. Certain wavelengths can even increase blood flow and lead to the formation of new capillaries. It could even be the case that exposure to the correct type of sunlight – in this case red and infrared wavelengths – may protect against the very same damage that led us to demonize sun exposure in the first place.
The results of these studies are so promising that many companies have already hit the market with red light gadgets to deliver the correct wavelengths on demand. But if you’re looking for a totally free daily biohack that can boost cellular metabolism and speed recovery, you’re in luck.
Concentrations of these wavelengths are higher at sunrise and sunset, meaning you have two chances each day to soak up these beneficial rays from the sun. We recommend 15 minutes of red light therapy each day during these times to help your body achieve optimal health.
3. EMF Mitigation
While we’re on the subject of wavelengths, let’s discuss another type of wave that is not so beneficial to your health: electromagnetic fields, or EMFs for short. Many common electronics surrounding us every day – cell phones, powerlines, household appliances, Wi-Fi routers, radio and television signals, computers, and even light bulbs – all emit low-frequency EMFs. That said, human exposure to EMFs is nothing new. The Earth’s magnetic field and the ionizing rays of light from the sun are both examples of natural EMFs we’ve evolved alongside for thousands of years, even as we’ve developed exponentially more sources of EMFs in the last 100 years.
While EMFs are seen as relatively harmless to your health, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests our constant, daily exposure to them may affect us in other ways, including sleep disturbances and insomnia, headaches, depression, fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, changes in memory, and even dizziness. If you know anything about optimal health and recovery, these symptoms become even more problematic.
Fortunately, limiting your exposure to EMF radiation is fairly simple – and it costs nothing.
To take advantage of this free daily biohack, turn off all electronics at least 2 hours before bed, as well as all lights unless they are low-EMF bulbs. Since your skin has photoreceptors, it’s recommended you also wear long sleeves and pants at during this time. Unplug your Wi-Fi router before bed.
To take your EMF mitigation even further, try to give your body an entire day or two off from electronics whenever possible. Go outside and experience the natural, grounding effect of walking barefoot. The more you can do to minimize your EMF exposure, the better your sleep quality, your mental health, and your overall sense of well-being.
Far from the new-age fad it once was, meditation is now a respected, scientifically-backed therapeutic method. It’s often utilized for reducing stress, controlling anxiety, lengthening attention span and focus, improving age-related memory loss, enhancing emotional well-being and benefiting overall health. It has even been shown to enhance willpower and develop the mental strength needed to adhere to good habits and avoid bad ones – even addiction.
Unfortunately, many of us have been misled about the proper way to meditate. If you think meditation requires emptying your mind and existing in a state of thoughtless nirvana for hours on end, you are among the misguided. Like any other ancient discipline, there are many ways to meditate that stay true to its intent.
Emily Fletcher, author of Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary performance, promotes what she calls Ziva-style meditation, a practice of reciting a multi-syllable mantra over and over while allowing thoughts to come and go without paying too much attention to any of them. This technique leads to a mental state that feels almost like drifting off to sleep and is designed to be as effortless as possible, done for only 15 minutes twice a day.
By following this practice, Fletcher believes you give your mind and your body the kind of deep, therapeutic rest they need for optimum recovery and function. It can be done anytime, anywhere, making it one of the most versatile and accessible free daily biohacks on our list.
But just because something is free, it doesn’t mean it happens automatically. That is, of course, unless we’re talking about the most powerful and underrated free daily biohack of them all: your breath. As Jay Shetty explains in his book, How to Think Like a Monk, the first discipline young monks are taught is breath control, because when you control your breath, you can control your state of mind.
Think about it: when you are anxious, scared, angry, or stressed, does your breathing change? What about when you are happy and excited? Learn to master your breathing, and you can master your physical and emotional response in any situation.
Controlling your breath has the power to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce the levels of stress hormones in your body, balance CO2 and O2 levels in the blood, and even reduce lactic acid.
And it’s simple: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, then hold that breath for four seconds. Slowly let it out for four seconds, then pause four seconds before inhaling again.
This ‘box breathing’ technique is taught in the military and special forces to reduce stress and improve focus. As with many of these free daily biohacks, all it takes to master this technique is a little time each day and consistent practice.
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