August 31, 2017
Middle age comes to us all. Heh, perhaps it already came to you. It's certainly knocking on my doorstep.
And the fact is, if you’re anywhere between twenty five and thirty years old (yep, physical degeneration, loss of hormones and degradation of connective tissue can begin as early as that!), then you’re probably experiencing some slightly distressing effects of aging: you have more digestive problems, your skin starts to fold into wrinkles, you find yourself losing energy, strength, and endurance, sun damage accumulates, urinary problems arise, and a disturbing host of malfunctions amass as your physiological machinery wears out and starts grinding itself into the ground.
Unfortunately, these things are pretty much taken for granted today. Muscle soreness, creaky joints, restricted movement and more are accepted as normal and status quo, especially once you’re “over the hill” of forty. And when that hill is mounted, the snowball of chronic disease and hearing loss can start to pick up speed. Heck, I’d be a rich man if I had a nickel for every time a sixty year old hunched over with back pain, knees buckling with arthritis and adipose tissue spilling over their waistline, says to me, “Just you wait!”
After all – everyone gets lots of wrinkles and creaky joints as they age, right? So why should you expect any different?
Maybe you’re already aware of this and you’ve already looked into a few common anti-aging strategies. Perhaps a miracle anti-aging cream? A colonic cleanse? Fancy spa treatments? Overpriced superfood cocktails?
Or perhaps you’ve turned to slightly more fringe methods and attempted to take a peek into the oft-confusing world of “biohacking” your anti-aging and longevity efforts. Let’s be honest, there are a growing variety of basic to super advanced biohacks that “all the kids” are using these days – the mile-long list of which is enough to send your head into a fiery, careening tailspin, your time into a confusing pursuit of researching what might actually work, and your wallet into a state of significant emptiness.
Fact is, whether you’ve been trying to reverse the effects of aging, if your skin is sagging and your mind feels foggy and tired, if you want to get that ol’ spring in your step that once was there, if injury is just a misstep away and if you want to enjoy the outdoors with your children and grandchildren for decades to come…
…some strategies – even so-called, new-fangled “biohacks” – actually can indeed put the brakes on aging.
You just have to know where to start.
So in this article, you’re going to learn how your body ages, the physical processes that aging affects the most, how certain body systems like the immune system should function (and how they relate to aging), and finally, (perhaps most importantly) what you can actually do to promote your health and your longevity using simple, easy-to-understand biohacks that get you the best results with the minimal effective dose and effort.
The biohacks introduced in this article have been carefully selected for you to use for each decade past thirty years old, presented in a style that makes it simple and easy for you to understand and to make things as least confusing as possible when it comes maximizing your lifespan by using modern science.
But before diving into the basic best biohacks that get you the most bang for your buck, let’s begin by investigating whether you actually can defy aging, and a few key variables that actually affect aging, shall we?
Can You Defy Aging?
The truth is, your body is built to last. It’s a master of survival. But it doesn’t just survive. It wants to thrive.
A lot of people chalk up bad health and aging to genetics. And on one level, that’s true. But not in the way you’d think. Your genetics have developed to express themselves a particular way, under a particular set of circumstances.
And the modern, sedentary, junk-food-stuffed lifestyle isn’t the proper environment for them to show their true colors. If you don’t set the right lifestyle for yourself, you’ll get what modern society has come to expect – aging, and all the discomfort that comes with it.
“Most of life is really much simpler than modern medicine and science would like to have you believe. You can have a tremendous impact on how your genes express themselves, simply by providing your cells the right environments. All you need is a basic understanding of how your body works and a simple philosophical roadmap you can use to find answers to just about any questions of health and fitness – whether it involves personal choices or lifestyle adjustments or whether medical intervention might be appropriate. With this simple strategy, you will forever be able to examine or evaluate any food choice, any form of exercise or any other behavior in the context of how it impacts your genes!”
Mark is one of the fittest old guys out there, with six-pack abs that would put an Abercrombie & Fitch model to shame. And, by blending ancestral living similar to his lifestyle with modern science (similar to the biohacks you’ll discover in this article), you too can enjoy functional strength and fitness, with far lower risk of injury – even when you’re forty, sixty, and eighty years old. The certified longest-lived person in recent years, Jeanne Calment, born in Arles, France in 1875, was still riding a bicycle until she was one hundred! She passed in 1997, at the death-defying age of 122.
There are plenty more examples of very long-living, happy, well functioning “old people”. For example, in this recent longevity podcast (in the news flashes section) I geeked out for about twenty minutes on several such examples.
So, how do you get there?
Well, admittedly, part of defying aging is likely due to genetics. Madame Jeanne Calment’s parents lived well into their late 80’s and early 90’s. Like Calment, you ladies out there have a better chance of reaching quite a respectable age than your male counterparts (the list of the oldest people in the world has more women on it than men). But no matter your gender, there are things you can actively do, habits you can develop, lifestyle changes you can make, and yes, even biohacks, that will all contribute to a longer, healthier, happier life.
But before diving into the practical things you can do to add years to your life, there are a few basic concepts you should familiarize yourself with so that you can understand how a human body actually ages.
How You Age
Biologically speaking, aging is an accumulation of damage, breakages in the molecular machinery of cells, a buildup of metabolic waste products that your body cannot break down, and the failure of biological systems that are increasingly unable to cope with the stress of daily life. Simply put, your body can no longer defend itself, repair itself, and purge itself. The three primary ways in which your body does those things are through the immune system, diet, and sleep.
So before moving on, here’s a brief explanation of why they’re so important to your longevity.
Inflammation and Your Immune System
Your immune system is vast and complex and involves a number of systems, including the vascular/arterial systems, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system and more. And a huge player in any immune response, whether to an infection, strain or fractures, is inflammation.
Inflammation, on its own, is not a disease. It’s part of a natural, healthy immune response that’s stimulated by things like environmental toxins, bad foods, and stress. Inflammatory problems arise when something in your lifestyle is out of balance. A poor diet and unhealthy habits can lead to overproduction of inflammatory chemicals, which, more often than not, run rampant once released. The normal Western diet doesn’t provide nearly enough anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Scientifically speaking, inflammation is the process by which the body’s white blood cells, and their products, protect you from invading organisms. When a strain of bacteria gets inside you, it might be attacked by what are called complement proteins. These basically puncture the membrane of the bacteria to destroy them by a process known as osmotic lysis. The bacteria can also be killed off through phagocytosis, where phagocytic immune cells engulf and destroy them. Or the infection can be fought (if the immune cells themselves become infected) through a cell-mediated response that reveals the hidden bacterium to the rest of the immune system.
This is a vital part of the acute inflammatory response. But when it occurs apart from a normal immune response, inflammation is connected to all kinds of problems. This is called chronic inflammation, a long-term condition that can last up to several years or more. Your body isn’t designed to deal with this type of generic immunological activity, and eventually, the excess white blood cells and their by-products can damage your organs. Chronic inflammatory systemic diseases (CIDs) occur when the stimulating trigger of inflammation isn’t removed, which leads to maladaptive responses that include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis, all of which increase mortality and reduce your well-being.
In light of this, your personal strategy to increase your years and improve their quality has to include some methods of minimizing the causes of inflammation and over-stimulated immune activity.
Diet & Fat Loss On Aging
You might be surprised to find out that there’s a deep-running connection between your immune system and your digestive system. Dr. Jordan Rubin describes the general brain-gut connection quite well in his book Patient, Heal Thyself. Early on in human embryogenesis (fetal development), some tissue called the “neural crest” appears and divides. One part becomes the central nervous system, and the other becomes the enteric nervous system. Later on, the two systems link up through a neural cable called the “vagus nerve”, which meanders from the brainstem through the organs in the neck and thorax, finally ending in the abdomen. This explains why you get butterflies in your stomach before going on stage, why you get stomach cramps before a hard workout or race, and why antidepressants can cause nausea and stomach upset can depress you.
But stomach problems don’t just lead to mood changes and depression.
Turns out, three-quarters of your immune system resides in your digestive tract. And that entire immune system is protected from its external environment (your food) by a thin, fragile lining that’s only one cell thick. If that lining is damaged and the barrier that it creates is penetrated, crazy things happen. You become allergic to foods you could normally handle without a problem, you get sick much more easily, and your whole immune system becomes overactive, which can result in chronic inflammation (hey, starting to come full circle).
And the things that punch holes in your digestive tract are things that you put there yourself – food. The number one offender is a chemical found on major edible plants like wheat, soy, and corn, anything that’s been grown commercially and sprayed down. It’s called glyphosate and it's used to kill weeds and insects. Once it winds up in your digestive tract, nothing’s gonna stop it from doing what it does best: killing living tissue. And not only will it destroy your gastrointestinal (GI) lining, it’ll also disrupt the microbiome of healthy bacteria living inside of you.
You also have to be aware of your diet’s effect (or absence of) on oxidation in your body. Oxidation is a part of a normal metabolism, but just like other aspects of life, it involves tradeoffs. Your body produces energy, but at the same time it produces oxidants, or “free radicals”. Free radicals are essentially any molecular species capable of existing on their own, which contain an unpaired electron in atomic orbit. Many of these molecules are unstable and highly reactive. Some free radicals are actually produced by normal metabolic processes, but many are externally sourced by cigarette smoking, air pollutants and industrial chemicals, and these, along with naturally occurring free radicals, are active agents in many conditions, including atherosclerosis, inflammatory conditions, certain cancers, and the overall process of aging. If this oxidative stress is left unchecked, it can result in cardiovascular diseases and DNA damage faster than you can check into a nursing home.
This means that you’ll have to be more mindful the next time you go to the store. Even when buying “market fresh” fruits and veggies, or meat from animals that have been fed on any of these things, think about where exactly they came from. You don’t want to put the plant version of a napalm bomb in your stomach. You’re also going to need to include certain things into your diet as antioxidants to directly counteract the aging effects of normal metabolic activity. Here, you’re going to discover some of the types of food you should be eating, as well as dietary supplements that will help mitigate the harmful effects of your environment and your own natural bodily processes.
Sleep & Aging
You probably already know that getting enough sleep is important. What you might not know is that getting a certain amount of sleep is not the only thing that will affect your health. It’s the age-old principle that quality is just as important as quantity. One of the most cutting-edge experts on sleep, Nick Littlehales, delves into what really stimulates great sleep and what deprives you of it, and coaches some of the world’s most elite athletes, including Cristiano Ronaldo. He helps reevaluate the mattress you sleep on, eliminate airborne particulates, and more. And here, you’re going to discover similar issues that will have massive implications for your zzz’s.
Sleep is critical for the proper physiological function of every system in your body. When you sleep, your body repairs and revitalizes itself. None of this is new. But if you’re like many people, you also most likely underestimate the power of sleep as compared to a healthy diet and regular exercise. A man named William Dement, who headed up the team in the 50’s that basically “discovered” REM sleep, thinks that high-quality sleep is as powerful an indicator of longevity as genetics.
In the mammalian brain, you find what’s called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is thought to be the “circadian clock” that regulates normal circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms, in a nutshell, are the human reaction to the night-and-day cycle. While they’re always generated by the body, their precise periods and phase relationships are set by external, environmental factors (e.g., the sun). The environmental factors do their work largely by means of photoreceptors and visual pathways. Light from both the sun and artificial sources directly stimulates the retinohypothalamic tract which triggers a circadian response that changes little throughout the day, and in our modern world undergoes delayed onset during the evening and is activated during late night/dark hours. The obvious way this type of stimulation begins is through those big ol’ honkin’ photoreceptors in your face – your eyes. But there are also photoreceptors literally all over your body in your skin. There are even photoreceptors in your ears. Even trace amounts of light that creep in through your window can have a huge impact on your sleep quality, all while you’re slumbering away.
As you can see from the examples above, your body is designed to act in a particular way under certain circumstances at specific times.
Your immune system is a huge machine, tightly packed with gears and cranks and nuts and bolts, that, when stimulated, starts to shore up your initial lines of defense with an army of cytokines and macrophages and inflammatory chemicals. But when you subject yourself to external stressors like a poor diet, you can throw off the delicate balance of hormones, inflammation and anti-inflammatory compounds, and your physical structure. That’s because your digestive system itself is a delicate flower, finely tuned to a point, and when something is amiss, your immune system is gonna feel it, since most of it is in your GI tract. And then when your hormones and inflammatory functions and stomach are on the fritz, the quality of your sleep will plummet. These three systems, responsible for defending, repairing, and purging your body, are tightly interwoven, so that even if just one is out of sync, they all suffer. As damage accumulates, you won’t be able to cope with the labors of daily life nearly as effectively as you could.
Taking charge of your longevity and health has to start with some tactics for regulating those systems and improving their function. And that’s the real reason you’re here right now. So armed with all this knowledge, it’s finally time to peel back the layers of the realm of biohacking, and present the barebones, do-or-die hacks to improve your longevity and well-being.
The Best Biohacks For 30-40 Year Olds
At this point in your life, aging problems may just be starting to manifest themselves. Or, if you’re lucky and took good care of yourself in your teens and 20's, maybe they’re still a couple years down the road. Inevitably, though, there comes a time in a middle-aged person’s life when the body starts to turn on itself. And this decade in particular is an interesting one.
Your body is just entering early stages of aging, but in all likelihood, you’re still mobile and capable of moving in a way that 50-, 60-, and 70-year olds can’t. You might be experiencing some slight joint discomfort, maybe a tight muscle here and there, but overall you’re in decent shape. Your body’s digestive and nutritive processes, like protein production and synthesis, are also still in overall good shape. They haven’t yet been exposed to a lifetime of digestive stress, and your need for dietary supplementation isn’t as great as that of a 67-year old’s. You also don’t have the sleep-issues that many older folk do, like restless leg syndrome, and the greatest threats to your nightly rest most likely come from overexposure to light as you sit up late watching Netflix or scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on your smartphone.
So between the 30- and 40-year mile-markers, if you want to prevent more alarming aging down the road, your magical bag of biohacks needs to contain a variety of tricks for dealing with issues you’re already experiencing, as well as preemptive strategies to maintain pristine health in the decades to come. These biohacks need to focus on lots of good, healthy movement, nutrient-dense, strategic eating (we’ll discuss a few different strategies for hacking your diet), and eliminating the sleep-inhibiting effects of blue light. Right now, it’s all about naturally maximizing your body’s potential for well-being.
So here's how to do it!
Inversion: Inversion is a simple yet incredibly effective anti-inflammatory technique. If you just finished a hard workout, or if you’ve been on your feet for hours on end, then you know how it feels when your feet and legs get heavy and sore. This is due to the waste products that have built up over the course of the day. They’re not being cleared out as effectively as they could be due to a simple yet powerful reason: gravity.
Gravity is forcing your heart and lymphatic system to work harder to clear everything out, so to speed up recovery, you need to make gravity work for you. Inversion helps to drain the blood, metabolites, and inflammatory by-products out of your legs. It also redirects blood to the head, reactivates the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system, and stimulates lymphatic circulation. You can achieve this effect simply by laying on your back with your feet propped up against the wall. But you can also get more efficient with tools and techniques designed just for this type of therapy.
ELDOA routines are unique exercises that, among other things, help to stimulate greater blood flow (to help get waste out of your system) and reduce inflammation, particularly in the joints. An inversion table is also a valuable asset in anyone’s office, home gym or garage. It’s basically like a seesaw for racers, exercise enthusiasts, and stay-at-home parents who spend the day on their feet. You strap your feet in at one end, lay back, and it’ll flip you upside down. This will also help with lower back and hip alignment. Or, if you have a pull-up bar hanging around somewhere and don’t want a large inversion table taking up space, you can get inversion gravity boots. These take up almost no space, strap easily around your ankles, and have secure hooks that latch onto any solid, straight bar for total inversion and inflammation reduction. However you do it, just invert yourself.
Cyclic Eating and Fat Burning: If you’re familiar at all with fringe diet hacks, you’ve probably overheard someone mention the hot-topic words “intermittent fasting” and “cyclic ketosis”. Intermittent fasting hearkens back to the daily situation that ancestral man found himself in: food was not readily available. These hunter-gatherers couldn’t just wake up and pour themselves a bowl of Primal-O’s (with 7 essential vitamins & minerals!) and some raw goat’s milk. They had to physically work every day to find their food. And when food was scarce, they’d have to live off of their fat stores. So their stomachs inevitably got frequent breaks.
Today, though, that doesn’t happen often. But our digestive systems still function pretty much the same way they did thousands of years ago, which means that no matter how healthy or nutrient dense the food, excessive and constant calorie consumption is stressful to the body because it taps into precious energy stores to break down, digest, absorb and assimilate a never-ending onslaught of food. Just like with muscular training, you have to give your body a break to recover. In fact, caloric restriction can reduce the morbidity of a number of longevity-threatening diseases, including autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathies, cancer, diabetes, renal diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and respiratory diseases.
There are a couple different ways that you can fast in order to give your body a break from digesting food. The first is known as twenty-four hour intermittent fasting. For every twenty-four hour cycle, you'd have a twelve to sixteen hour fasted period, resulting in eight to twelve hours of eating. For example, you can eat dinner around 8 pm, then eat nothing until breakfast or an early lunch sometime between 8 am and noon the next day.
Then, every once in awhile (once every one to two months minimum), pick a day when you’re going to completely clean out your body and allow for enhanced cellular autophagy (basically a physiological “cleaning-house”) by engaging in a longer fast. By refraining from food for extended periods of time (twenty four hours or more), you’ll give your body a fighting chance to turn its attention to other matters, like cellular repair and restoration.
Ladies, though, be careful with daily intermittent fasting. Many women find that fasting causes sleeplessness, anxiety, and irregular periods, among a myriad of other hormonal dysregulation symptoms. That may sound slightly sexist and unfair, but it’s just the way it is. You will have much better results (without throwing a monkey wrench into your hormonal machinery) with occasional twenty four hour fasts than with alternate day or daily sixteen hour fasting.
Now, on to ketosis. The average American diet consists of high amounts of protein and carbohydrates (particularly if you’re an athlete). Both cause you to develop insulin and leptin resistance, which will cause your body to produce even more insulin. High blood insulin levels can lead to things like obesity, sleep problems, and hypertension, and it can contribute to inflammation. To avoid these problems, you have to make a fuel switch from sugar to fat.
When your body uses fat for fuel, it enters a state of high-efficiency fat-burning and it doesn’t release nearly as many reactive oxygen species and free radicals and that will reduce any chronic inflammation and cellular-level damage you might be experiencing. The standard ketogenic diet focuses on high consumption of healthy fats (70% of your diet, comprised of fat sources like MCT oil or coconut oil), moderate protein intake (25%), and very low carbohydrate consumption (5%). Give it a try and see how you feel!
Early Morning Light: Believe it or not, getting a good night’s sleep begins in the morning. To stimulate normal circadian phase cycles, you have to be exposed to some kind of natural sunlight, or its equivalent, first thing in the morning. Blue light, which is naturally produced by the sun, has a particular wavelength and has the highest energy of all visible light. It’s largely responsible for regulating your circadian rhythms via the direct retinohypothalamic tract pathway through your eyes. A simple 10 to 20 minute walk outside in the morning will help you reset your biological clock and put you on a healthy circadian rhythm.
If you can’t access the sun, you can bring the sun to you! You can replace some of the lightbulbs in your house or apartment with specially designed bulbs that bombard you with blue light. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can also get what are called Retimer glasses, which emit a bright, greenish-blue light into your eyes. These are particularly useful because, while the sun will stimulate waking activity, you can’t control when the sun comes up. If you’re waking up at some ungodly hour of the morning, or have trouble waking up at a reasonable time, the Retimer glasses actually let you completely reset your sleep cycles. If you wake up at 4 a.m. but don’t want to, you can keep yourself in low-level light until, say, 6 a.m., and then put on the Retimer glasses. After a couple weeks of this therapy, you’ll start to wake up naturally at 6am. You can also affect your circadian cycles through the photoreceptors in your ears. The Human Charger is a set of earbuds that, in a way similar to the Retimer glasses, blast your photoreceptors in your ears with blue light, which will not only help regulate your sleep cycles but also stimulate greater activation of the visual and sensory-motor areas of the brain.
Total Darkness: Since blue light (which is generated by the sun and pretty much all electronic device screens and LED light sources) cranks your brain into gear and stimulates waking activity, you’ll need to reduce your exposure to it later in the day, and preferably, completely eliminate it when you go to bed. An easy way to do this is to download phone and computer applications that dim the screens by filtering the blue light out.
A great app is IrisTech software, downloadable on your computer. It was developed by a computer programmer who spent up to 10 hours a day staring at a screen. He knew that blue light had a high “color temperature” that could both cause major eye pain and strain and reduce the quality of sleep. IrisTech is specifically designed to eliminate that effect, so that throughout the day as you work and play on your laptop, you don’t throw off your circadian cycles. You can check out this podcast for a lot more information on things like IrisTech and unhealthy light.
Another easy option is to get yourself a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. These glasses are specially tinted to let other light wavelengths in while keeping blue light out. When it comes to eliminating blue light exposure while you're actually sleeping, the Sleep Master Sleep Mask is an all-in-one, total light elimination and sound-reduction mask to help induce amazingly deep and refreshing sleep. It’s for everyone who wants to nap better, sleep better while traveling, and for those whose partners insist on watching TV or reading late into the night.
But since your photoreceptors aren’t limited to your eyes, if you want to eliminate all sleep-damaging light sources at night, you have to completely clear your room of LEDs, normal light bulbs, and light exposure from outside your bedroom. If you have any kind of artificial light coming in through the window (most of you probably do), you should install 100%, total blackout curtains. Even trace amounts of external light from a street lamp or storefront across the street can affect your circadian rhythms. If you have a Wifi router or electronic clock or computer with flickering lights anywhere in your room, you also need to cover all of the bright flashing lights with black LED blocking tape. It comes in all shapes and sizes to accommodate the wide range of sleep-disrupting devices that may be scattered across your bedroom.
G-Forces: Good lymphatic circulation is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. The lymphatic system removes and destroys waste, debris, dead blood cells, pathogens, and cancer cells, it absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system, and removes excess fluid from the cells. When lymph flow improves, more toxins are cleared out of the system, and the immune-boosting vitamins, minerals and essential oils you use will get where they need to go. But, while lymph flows through capillaries in a way similar to blood, the lymphatic system doesn’t have any kind of pump like the heart to force it around your body. It relies entirely on movement – resistance training, running, yoga, pilates, really any kind of muscular and joint movement. Even self-performed massages, known as simplified lymphatic drainage, promote better lymph flow.
But if you want your lymphatic system to work with more efficiency, you can stimulate it by generating G-forces. The term “G-force” refers to, in some cases, the force of gravity on any given planet (like Earth), and in other cases, the force of acceleration in any situation. Subjecting your body to low level G-forces causes greater lymphatic movement.
A trick I learned from a Navy SEAL commander that uses altered G forces to stimulate lymph flow is to bounce up and down on your feet without leaving the ground. You can also use a small, personal trampoline that can fit in your bedroom or garage – just make sure the ceiling is high enough. Vibration therapy also improves lymph flow. The full-body Vibration Platform, as well as localized devices like the MyoBuddy Massager Pro are both great options. However you crank those G-forces up, it’ll provide better lymphatic circulation than just lifting weights or practicing yoga alone.
The Best Biohacks For 40-50 Year Olds
Now you’ve entered what people typically think of when someone mentions “middle-age”. If you’re like most people, you’ve made your way through a couple largely sedentary decades, your muscles are weakening, arthritis might be creeping in, and your nightly trips to the bathroom are becoming all too common for your liking.
Unless you know what you’re doing, it’ll get worse and worse for another fifteen to twenty years, and then it’ll be even more difficult to reverse the effects of aging. So if you want to be the one that makes everyone say, “Charlene, you don’t look a day over 30!”, you need to start tending to every part of your body, from the skin on the outside to the white calcium foundations of your bones.
At fifty, immune function is starting to decline, so you have to go beyond just stimulating more lymphatic flow. Your bones and muscles are starting to degenerate faster and lifting a chair across the room is a little more difficult than you remember. And sleep starts to slip further and further from your drooping eyelids. You need more than just weird movements like inversion or more exposure to light to solve your problems. And that leads us to…
Vibration Therapy: Yep, more vibration therapy. Vibration devices are good for more than just lymphatic circulation. As you age, bone density decreases and fractures or complete breakages become much more common. This is known as osteoporosis. Full disclosure, osteoporosis can occur at pretty much any age. But as you get older, as bone density decreases and your strength and balance diminish as well, it becomes one of the key factors in age-related bone fractures. In particular, postmenopausal women are at higher risk for osteoporosis. Which means, as menopause sets in during your late 40’s and early 50’s, you should be doing as much as you can to promote strong bones. And vibration therapy is the perfect tool to do that.
Vibration devices generate G forces (for the vibration platform, a rate of 2.7-3.3 G, or 26.46-32.34 meters per second squared) that force you to lightly contract your muscles in order to maintain balance and stability, and this contraction reinforces the intimate relationship between your muscles and bones. Muscle strength and stability are known predictors of bone density because like muscular strength, bone rigidity is directly proportional to the habitual mechanical loads placed on the bones. A bone that is subjected to habitual mechanical loads (such as through exercise) becomes well adapted to that load (i.e., increases density) so it can withstand the force without breaking.
One study conducted on postmenopausal women found that a 24-week WBV (whole-body-vibration) program improved both muscle strength and hip bone density, the second of which was not observed in the women who participated in normal resistance training. Investing in a vibration platform, although somewhat pricey, would be worthwhile so that you can stay active during and after these early middle years without a high risk of personal injury.
Collagen Smoothie: Collagen can significantly reduce the effects of aging. Your skin is your largest organ, serving many functions. One of those functions, specifically in the inner layer known as the dermis, is the production of elastin and collagen by fibroblasts. Collagen is the major fibrous protein found in the extracellular matrix of your body, as well as in connective tissue. When connected, collagen molecules pack together to form various types of structures like fibrils and two-dimensional reticulums, and they all serve a large, single purpose – to withstand stretching, hold your tissue together, and spring it back to its original shape.
But over time, the quality and quantity of collagen that the dermis produces can be seriously affected both by diet and exposure to the sun until it becomes disorganized and abnormal in nature. When you observe the skin in that state, it’s loose and dry, resulting in one of the markers of old age – wrinkles. By supplementing your diet with collagen, you can minimize the degeneration of your dermal and epidermal tissue. Collagen is also a crucial aspect of bone structure, so by adding extra, high-quality collagen to a smoothie or taking a collagen supplement like NatureFlex as you age, you’ll solidify your entire physiological infrastructure from the inside out. It’s as easy as throwing in a scoop or two of powdered collagen into a smoothie.
Supplement Your Sleep: There’s a host of culprits that will disrupt healthy sleep, but some of the most notorious ones involve a reduction in the natural secretion of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is produced primarily at night by the tiny pineal gland, an endocrine gland located smack-dab in the middle of your brain. It’s normal function is to induce sleep. Over time, the production of melatonin degenerates. There are a number of environmental factors that impact how melatonin behaves and circulates, namely the light-dark cycle, but you can also influence its function through your diet. Its synthesis depends on the availability of its precursor, tryptophan (TRP), an essential amino acid (essential amino acids can’t be produced naturally by the body). When intake of TRP is low, melatonin production is inhibited. Luckily, TRP is readily available in foods like turkey, eggs, nuts, and different types of cheese.
But there are other nutrients that you’ve most likely never heard of that also have a massive impact on the quality of your sleep. A supplement called Sleep Remedy contains small amounts of the nutrients involved in producing melatonin, like L-Tryptophan but also 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It also contains something called phGABA, which is a key player in the initiation of REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep, the phase in your sleep when your brain becomes more active and intense dreams occur. Sleep Remedy was created by sleep physician and former Navy SEAL, Dr. Kirk Parsley, who wanted to design a supplement that let’s hard-charging or stressed-out folks settle down for the night, but it’s just as effective for anyone who’s dealing with the detrimental effects of aging on sleep.
Thick as Thieves: A 15th century tale of four thieves is notable today because, as they roamed the countryside robbing people and tombs as professional thieves do, they never got sick. Turns out, they made a habit of applying specific herbs and spices to their bodies that did two things: stabilized and supported their bodies’ natural immunological responses and eliminated dangerous bacterial bioaerosols. These included cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, eucalyptus, and more.
You can get different essential oil blends called “thieves” essential oil, made by a few different companies, and while the oil blends can differ a little, there are a few oils that are staples. One study observed the effect of a blend of cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon and rosemary on three bacteria species, Micrococcus luteus (can cause skin infections in people with compromised immune systems), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (can cause pneumonia), and Staphylococcus aureus (associated with a number of skin infections and life-threatening diseases and septic conditions). After 10 minutes of exposure to the diffused blend, these three bacteria (respectively) underwent reductions of 82%, 96%, and 44%. The oils also naturally increase the activity of your white blood cells and increase the strength of your lymphatic system. Cinnamon, for example, contains a number of chemicals, like trans-cinnamaldehyde, caryophyllene oxide, and cinnamyl acetate that make it a potent anti-inflammatory. And all these oils blend together to give you a major immunity boost.
Body Protecting Compound (BPC): Your body has a remarkable ability to protect itself. From the considerable powers of the immune system to the massive outer cellular coat we call skin, when you treat your body correctly, it uses the resources you put in it extremely efficiently. And one of (if not the most) impressive lines of defense is produced in trace amounts in your gastric juices to help protect and heal your gut. It’s known as body protecting compound (BPC).
Normally, it’s restricted to use in your GI tract. But you can also get it in a hyper-concentrated version known as BPC-157. When it’s injected into your body, it initiates an extremely potent level of biological healing activity that includes: tendon and ligament healing, tendon-to-bone healing so effective that it may supplant present reconstructive surgical methods, counteraction of the damaging effects of NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Advil, minimization of damage from inflammatory bowel disease, elimination of periodontitis, muscle healing, and bone healing. It may even help in the prevention of life-threatening conditions like pulmonary hypertension syndrome. This is biohacking at its finest and you can learn everything you need to know about using BPC-157 in this article I wrote. If you’re injured, deal with chronic inflammation, or suffer from gut damage, you should give BPC-157 a serious position in your supplement cabinet.
The Best Biohacks For 50-60 Year Olds
Half a century. That is impressive, especially by ancestral standards. Thousands of years ago, you would have been one of the most respected, experienced members of your community, because your age spoke on your behalf, saying, “I’m smart enough, fast enough, and strong enough to have made it this far still kicking.” And back then, if you had made it this far, you were likely still in phenomenal health, capable of keeping up with your younger peers as they went through the day’s activities.
What our ancestors would NOT be impressed with is the range of biological degenerative effects that half a century inflicts on most first-world people today. But, as evidenced by the way people lived thousands of years ago, 50 years per se isn’t really the problem. Genetically, not much has changed. The difference today, as you’ve read over and over again, is the environment we set up for ourselves.
As genetic and molecular damage accumulates, it seeps deeper and deeper into your body, which means that at this stage of life your go-to biohacks need to affect change at the genetic and molecular levels. You need to start influencing the way your mitochondria behave, the way your sleep interacts with the earth, and the way your neurons are designed to work. There’s thousands of years of genetic heritage at your back, and with decades of biological damage in your system, you’re gonna need all the help you can get to capitalize on your genes’ natural expression. Here, you’re about to discover a few of the more fringe biohacking strategies that hearken back down the ages to put you in the best health possible at this milestone age.
Infrared Immunity: One of the hottest topics in the biohacking world is infrared/far infrared light therapy. Infrared light is a particular wavelength range of light, specifically, any light with a wavelength between 0.7 micron (1 micron = 1/1,000,000 meters) to about 0.1 mm. The light that we “see” reflected off of objects onto our eyes is shorter than 0.7. Anything longer than that becomes invisible to our eyes. But you can still experience it, and you have, anytime you feel heat coming from the sun or a campfire (examples of thermal infrared light).
Infrared light can be used in a number of ways to stimulate lots of cellular level activity in your body. In fact, your body naturally produces its own infrared light as a critical element of mitochondrial activity (remember, the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell). It’s so critical, that if you weren’t exposed to it either by your body or by the sun, you’d die. But you can expose yourself to greater amounts of external infrared light, which penetrates up to an inch and a half into your body, to benefit from this therapy.
Evidence has been mounting that infrared light therapy can, via photostimulation and photobiomodulation, benefit neural stimulation and regeneration, wound healing, and cancer treatment. And at specific wavelengths like 0.85 micron, infrared light can even reduce inflammation by regulating the activity of T-cell cytokines, molecules secreted by a number of different cells that tell your body to direct energy and reinforcements to areas that may be inflamed. I immerse my body in red infrared light while working in my office with the Joovv Light that hangs on my office door. If you want to completely immerse yourself in infrared light for complete and total absorption, you can install an infrared sauna like the Clearlight Infrared Sauna in your home gym, garage, workshed, or pretty much anywhere. And while you do have to be careful when using infrared light (near, mid-range, or far), the benefits they lend when used properly are enormous.
Vitamin E Supplementation: As you’ve already learned, over time your body loses its ability to keep your skin and connective tissue both tight and flexible. One of the big reasons why is long-term exposure to the sun. But another, which by now you’re very familiar with, is oxidative stress. When the activity of free radicals in the dermis, the part of the skin right underneath the very outer layer, is not regulated properly (which occurs more and more as you age), they begin to damage dermal fibroblasts. Remember that fibroblasts are responsible for producing the molecules that both tighten your body tissues as well as allow them to stretch without breaking. And, as already mentioned, collagen makes a great supplement to help counteract your degenerating fibroblasts.
But as you age, your amino acid and protein synthesis declines, so you need to take even greater steps. Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that counteracts the effects of oxidative free radicals, and can actually reduce their impact on the skin by enhancing both skin moisture and elasticity. Vitamin E works in part by protecting cell membranes (like fibroblasts) from lipid peroxidation, giving them time to recover and carry out their appropriate functions. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that will help counteract aging.
You do have to be wary, however, whenever you supplement your diet with high levels of vitamin E. Research indicates that an overdose of vitamin E can could lead to hemorrhagic stroke, as well as damage the fetus when taken during early pregnancy. It can also cause nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, blurred vision, rashes, and bruising and bleeding. You should ALWAYS talk to a doctor about the proper dose for you personally. In addition, since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, it should always be taken with food, specifically with some kind of good fat, like coconut, avocado, or olive oil, fatty meat/fish, butter/ghee, just some healthy fat source so that your body can properly absorb and utilize it in the places that need it most. But, despite the effects that overdosing can cause, that shouldn’t stop you from using it appropriately to maintain a youthful appearance and skin conditioning. It’s all about the right nutritional balance!
Electromagnetic Sleep: Sleep disorders are more common in older adults, due to lifelong exposure to stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, disease-caused pain such as arthritis, brain/neural conditions, physical inactivity, chronic disease, and certain medications, supplements and herbs. If you’re experiencing problems sleeping or falling asleep, it’s crucial to take steps to reduce/eliminate them.
The EarthPulse PEMF Sleep Machine is designed to release a pulsed electromagnetic field of 10 Hz to restore your sleep cycles from jet lag, sleep deprivation, exposure to electrical pollution and other stressors, as well as stimulate cellular regeneration. PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) exposure sets off a few different physiological reactions by mimicking the electromagnetic field created by the earth itself (hence the name of the device). The human neurological system is known to be paced by what are called Schumann waves created by the earth, and our mitochondria are tuned by the earth’s core resonation, which is right around 9.6 Hz. So, when ancestral man went to bed every night (in direct contact with the ground, of course), he was exposed to this resonation. And again, being genetically downstream of our ancestors, our bodies have developed to behave much in the same way.
Most metal frame beds or box spring mattresses magnify the earth’s electromagnetic field to a damaging frequency that can extend far above where you lie. So by exposing yourself to the electromagnetic field given off by the EarthPulse, you’re placing yourself in pretty much the same sleeping situation as your ancestors (you should also look into getting a mattress with no metal in it, like the Essentia Mattress, which eliminates harmful EMF exposure). Put the EarthPulse right next to you in bed and enjoy a restorative, regenerating night of zzz’s.
Flex Your Neurons: 53-year old Laird Hamilton, one of the most successful big wave surfers alive, puts many of the 20-something year-olds he competes with to shame. His secret? Constantly learning new stuff. His garage is a personal testament to this philosophy, full of new toys he’s invented to surf in different ways, along with skis, snowboards, jetskis, balance devices and more. This whole approach to youthfulness and vitality is predicated on the way your neurons and brain work. Here, it’s all about developing neural plasticity.
The brain has the capacity to adapt to a wide range of environmental changes. This helped our ancestors to survive and spread across the planet. You can simulate that type of neural training by learning new physical skills and forcing your brain and muscles to keep up by maintaining and building new neurons. But you can get a lot more scientific with your brain training. There are lots of programs available for initiating the development of cognitive function. For example, Lumosity focuses on five aspects of cognition: memory, attention, problem solving, processing speed and thought flexibility. They collaborate with researchers and scientists from over forty different universities to bring you some of the most cutting-edge training available for keeping your neurons pliable and strong. Staying young as you get older depends on a healthy nervous system, and it with apps like Lumosity, it only ten to fifteen minutes a day to keep your mind sharp and your body youthful. If you really want to take things to the next level, try neurofeedback.
Electrostimulation: This is another method to keep your muscles and neurons firing into your fifth decade and beyond. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) really lets you capitalize on muscle training without worrying about straining or injuring yourself while you’re the gym or running in the park. And its benefits extend way beyond regular training supplementation.
Muscular atrophy as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure, sepsis and multiple organ failure can be minimized and/or eliminated by the use of EMS as an alternative to traditional exercise. To understand how EMS works, you have to understand how your muscles contract and relax. Skeletal muscles have multiple layers of structure, which at the very bottom of the pyramid are founded on thick filaments of myosin and thin filaments of actin. The process of contraction begins with the myosin heads being bound to the actin filaments. ATP present among the muscle cells causes the myosin heads to release and bind further along the actin, by about 5 nm. Now, the myosin is in the “cocked” position. The myosin heads then rebind at a new position along the actin, causing the “power stroke” phase where the myosin returns to its initial conformation, sliding the actin filament along. And this all happens in a split second.
Now, EMS has what’s called proprioceptive benefits, which means the electrical currents “grab” the muscle fibers ( the myosin and actin) and cause light stretching and contraction, to stimulate blood flow and recovery from ICU-level conditions, as well as speed up recovery from a hard workout. There are a number of available products, like the MarcPro or the Compex Sport Elite. Whichever you use, this should be one of your go-to hacks to maintain muscle mass and strength as you get older, without risk of traumatic injury.
The Best Biohacks For 60+ Year Olds
You’re well over the hill now, at least according to current standards. Hormonal function has declined, your protein synthesis is at an all-time low, and a good night of sleep may be no more than a distant memory. Systemic, cellular-level degeneration dictates what you can and cannot do. Getting out of bed, out of your chair, and off of the toilet becomes difficult, painful even. Your failing muscles may limit you to your home, the grocery store, and the local early bird special.
If your lifestyle for the last six decades (or more) has mostly been physically inactive and fueled by beer, junk food, and dangerous, chemical-laden veggies, your body has fallen into disuse and disrepair. Here, before it becomes too late, it’s time to knock the dust off your limbs, replenish the delicate community of organisms in your gut that you’ve destroyed over the years, and restore your nervous system, which at this point is likely in a bad, bad way. This is your final stand against creaking joints and saggy skin, as you turn and defiantly climb your way back to lasting good health and decades more of happiness.
The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Your gut is alive and crawling with critters – five hundred species and three pounds of bacteria in your digestive tract form a giant ecosystem, a microbiome, that helps digest food, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, and produce vitamins and other healing compounds that keep your gut and body healthy. As you age, it’s especially important to take care of your gut and its microbiome of bacteria. There are lots of things that can disrupt it.
One of the biggest, baddest guys around is a chemical called triclosan. You don’t have to go far to find it – it’s found in common household items like toothpaste, soap, detergent, even toys, and it’s a known antimicrobial that will destroy the friendly bacteria in your gut.. When the concentration of healthy bacteria changes, it can lead to things like high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (hardening/narrowing of arteries), which itself can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular complications like strokes.
So to maintain robust good health into your sixties, seventies and eighties, you have to maintain healthy levels of stomach critters. Kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea, is a great, easy way to do that. Research has shown that kombucha can improve resistance against cancer, prevent cardiovascular diseases, and reduce inflammatory problems, all of which are failures or malfunctions of the immune system. You can get it at any pretty much any health food store in all sorts of delicious flavors. Yogurt, milk kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, and probiotic supplements will also promote a healthy gut microbiome.
Morning Protein Shake: As you age, your protein synthesis isn’t going to be as efficient as it once was. Specifically, skeletal muscle in older humans becomes resistant to the anabolic (constructive) action of insulin as it applies to the construction of more complex proteins from simpler proteins. This results in a process known as sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass and tissue. And one of the most important things you can do to combat this is to take supplementary protein, with amino acids, especially leucine. Leucine helps reverse the effects of aging on protein synthesis. Leucine also helps to regulate blood-sugar levels, growth hormone production, and wound healing, and also prevents the breakdown of muscle proteins after trauma or severe stress.
As one of the nine essential amino acids, the body can’t produce leucine on its own, so you should start off each day with a good protein shake that has a high content of leucine. But leucine isn’t the only important essential amino acid; after all, that’s why they’re called essential. They all serve different functions, which you can check out here. A great source of the essential amino acids, as well as the branched chain amino acids, is NatureAminos Essential Amino Acids. And you can take your protein supplementation even further with digestive enzymes. You might have heard of digestive enzymes, but never really gotten into using them. Well, you should. You can crank out your muscular recovery to new heights by blending your protein shake with digestive enzymes like Masszymes, which will then literally pre-digest the proteins and amino acids before you’ve even gotten them into your system. By doing so, you’ll enhance protein synthesis and amino acid availability, and fully enjoy the benefits of your strength training.
The BioMat: Sleep in elderly adults is often restless. You may get less sleep, have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently or wake up still tired. Part of the reason for this can be raised cortisol levels due to stressful conditions. Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases in response stress to help metabolize sugar and activate the “fight-or-flight” response. Stress can come from work, home, friends, the environment, anywhere. So, if you want to reduce cortisol levels, which inhibit good sleep, you need to reduce your stress levels.
The BioMat infrared sleep mat combines three technologies to help you get the best night’s sleep possible: far infrared rays, negative ion effects, and the conductive properties of amethyst channels. Far infrared heat in particular helps to stimulate blood flow and movement of fluids. If you’ve ever been by the beach, near a waterfall or been out right after a big storm, you probably felt this general “clean” feeling, which is the result of the negatively charged ions that are naturally produced in those situations. Negative ions clear the air of pollutants like spores, bacteria, cigarette smoke, dust and other particles (these are all positively charged particles), which can put your body under serious stress. By combining these with the amethyst channels, the Biomat delivers soothing, deep-penetrating heat therapy, reduces stress and initiates the regeneration of damaged cells in your body, all of which will help you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling like a million bucks.
Low-Impact Sprinting: This advice comes directly from the man, Mark Sisson. He bases this philosophy on the way primal man would have moved through the world. First, instead of performing long, slow, “chronic cardio” workouts, he does short, fast all-out sprint workouts (ultimate frisbee, treadmill high intensity interval training, hard, uphill cycling, etc.), and recommends doing these once every seven to ten days. Second, he does brief, intense sessions of full body, heavy weightlifting one to three times per week, for just seven to thirty minutes. And finally, he moves frequently at a slow pace, using things like treadmill workstations to get low-level physical activity all day long, avoiding long unbroken periods of sedentary time.
Now, the low-level movement aspect of this is fairly simple to implement. But, if you try a sprinting exercise at this age, most likely it will not end well because of the joint impact that most sprint workouts cause. There are even ways around this problem, though. For a low-impact workout, you can use things like the ElliptiGO Outdoor Elliptical Trainer. The ElliptiGO combines an elliptical with a bike so you can get the benefits of running and sprinting without all the stress on your ankles, knees, and hips. Since it was originally designed for cross-training and injured runners, it makes the perfect biohacking tool for any older adult who wishes they could move more, without hurting themselves, but isn’t sure how to go about doing that.
Stay Supple: It doesn’t matter how efficiently you train or how often. If you don’t keep yourself limber and supple, what good are your muscles gonna do? Olga Kotelko was one of the most prolific athletes over the age of 90, holding more than 30 world records in track and field events. She was so good that they sometimes had to place her in the mens’ events! Her go-to advice for longevity? Stay supple. She didn’t beat up her body every day without going out of her way to recover. She woke up every night, grabbed an old, empty wine bottle beside her bed, and gave herself a full-body, foam-roller style massage to break up the fascia (a web of connective tissue that can clump up due to exercise), and soothe her muscles and joints.
But there are much cooler toys than just an old wine bottle that you can use. The MyoBuddy, which was introduced earlier, makes a great addition to your collection of recovery tools. You can also get the RumbleRoller foam roller, the only foam roller that’s specifically optimized for total self-myofascial release to stimulate full muscular recovery and enhance lymphatic and blood circulation. In an age when muscle soreness, cranky joints and poor movement are common and accepted in old age, these should be some of the first things you reach for as you biohack your way to mobility and strength.
What are your greatest joys in life? Traveling? Going on a hike with loved ones? Enjoying a rich, delicious cabernet in the evening followed by a stroll in the cool air?
You could (and should!) be doing these and more for the rest of your life.
There’s simply no reason to accept the dogma that old age means less active, less healthy, and less vibrant. It’s said that the glory of old age is gray hair. And that’s true. But that doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you’re twenty years younger at the same time. Your well-being, the state of your immune system, your diet, and your sleep patterns don't have to be subject to the routines of the modern world. You can take control of your health and shift your body into a state of longevity that reaches to your core.
In summary, here are all of the biohacks you’ve learned about listed for quick reference for each age-group:
30-40 years old:
- Inversion; turn yourself upside down
- Cyclic eating/intermittent fasting and occasional 24-hour fasting/ketosis
- Early morning blue light exposure
- Total nighttime light elimination
- G-forces for lymphatic circulation and immune function
40-50 years old:
- Vibration therapy for bone density and muscle strength
- Collagen supplementation for skin health and beauty
- Melatonin-stimulating Sleep Remedy supplement
- Thieves Essential Oil for immunity
- BPC-157 for Wolverine-level recovery and repair
50-60 years old:
- Infrared light exposure for the regulation of the immune system and inflammation
- Vitamin E supplementation for antioxidant effects in your skin
- EarthPulse PEMF sleep machine for ancestral sleeping
- Brain training for neural plasticity
- Kombucha for a healthy gastrointestinal microbiome
- Protein supplementation with lots of leucine for healthy protein synthesis
- BioMat for stress relief and better sleep
- ElliptiGO Outdoor Elliptical Trainer for low-impact sprinting
- Myofascial release/muscle massaging for suppleness and mobility
Hopefully, this introduction to biohacking has been useful. At this point, you should have gained new insights into how your body functions, and how to tap into the true power of your genes that are just itching for the chance to express themselves the way they’re designed to. By no means was this an exhaustive list of the biohacks that prevent and reverse aging. There’s plenty more you can do to supplement these basic hacks. But the first step is always the most important and you don’t want to start your biohacking journey by shoving probes in your nose or strange devices and liquids up your butt.
So this week, your task is straightforward – give your genes that chance, and try using one of these sleep hacks you've just discovered. Work it into your daily habits. Whether you’re putting on a sleep mask, taking a sleep supplement or using a heat mat or chilling pad, just find a way to sleep better. As your sleep cycles reset, you’ll feel younger, fresher, more alert, and more efficient. You don’t need a science degree to combat aging, you don’t have to be an athlete to be in good shape forever, you don’t have to be twenty to feel twenty. Just start with the biohacks listed here and someday, you’ll be passing on your secrets to a long, happy life to your great-great-grandchildren.
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for me about any of these biohacks? Leave your comments below and I will reply!