By Kate Baldridge with Lisa Jacobs
I met fellow lawyer-turned-vanlifer Kate Baldridge with Bristlekone Body & Mind and was immediately fascinated by her unique approach to healthy living using what’s referred to as “biohacking.” Some famous biohackers include Dave Asprey, as well as Tim Ferriss. Kate and I filmed a video showing some of her high-tech (and pretty pricy) biohacking tools, which is linked here.
But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be a biohacker!
Below Kate shares affordable and easy ways you can use what we know about biohacking on the road. Read on for more and let us know what think about this topic in the comments!
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is the art and science of changing your internal and external environment to gain more control over your own biology. It’s essentially the process of using controlled experimentation to pursue self-development, deeper self-understanding, and ultimately becoming the best version of ourselves. It’s a way to upgrade your brain and combat the effects of the unnatural and unhealthy environment of sitting in a chair in front of a screen under artificial lights for 8 hours a day.
How can biohacking improve my health?
The goal is to offset the effects of the modern lifestyle on our bodies and minds so you’re healthier and happier. One of the best ways to do this is to slow down and head out into nature; if you live on the road and spend lots of time in nature, you’re already a biohacker!
In addition to spending time outside, there are many simple ways to improve your life through biohacking techniques.
5 simple ways you can use biohacking to improve your life.
1. Get sufficient sleep.
It’s not the sexiest biohack out there, but the number one way to upgrade your life is to optimize your sleep. Just one night of poor sleep will have an obvious impact on your mood, decision-making, and physical performance. Most people, nomadic or not, are sleep deprived and it’s the number one way to significantly increase your quality of life.
Top biohacks for improving your sleep:
- Sleep in an environment between 60 and 67 degrees
- Eliminate night time blue light exposure
- Find creative workspaces that don’t include the bed so that your body knows its time to sleep when you get into bed
- Don’t eat within an hour of bedtime
- Get direct sun exposure within 20 minutes of waking up to optimize your body’s circadian rhythm
2. Move your body with purpose.
Deliberate, physical movement is the miracle drug you’re looking for.
Training, done properly, can build muscle, reduce stress, increase bone density, optimize sleep, improve mood, build confidence, relieve pain and depression, boost your brain, and more and it’s totally free.
Become more physically literate.
To correct muscle imbalances, improve mobility, and make you better at life, start with a fundamental understanding of human movement and incorporate daily practices that mimic and support movements from everyday life.
Diversify your training.
Diversity in your training means incorporating practices that include durability, cardio, endurance, strength, and power.
Unconventional training methods accomplish both of these points and you don’t need a gym for any of it. Some modalities I use are body weight, kettlebells, the X3 Bar (variable resistance training), a suspension trainer, mobility balls, a jump rope, a bosu balance trainer, parallettes, and carrying rocks and logs up and down mountains.
3. Prioritize your nutrition.
What we put into our bodies impacts energy, mood, performance, longevity, and on and on.
Energy is produced by the body through complex metabolic pathways that utilize stored glycogen, ketones, protein, and fat to produce a chemical called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This process requires macronutrients to trigger the hormone signals that start the process. This is why the source of your calories matters and nutrient density is key.
Take advantage of local produce where you are, diversify your diet by changing up what you eat each day and eating seasonally, slow down and eat mindfully rather than on the run, and replace as many sugar calories as you can with high quality fats.
4. Optimize your Hydration.
There’s a lot more to proper hydration than drinking 8 glasses of water per day what really matters is how much of that water reaches your cells and how your cells use it.
The body’s electrical system operates through fluid and relies upon proper hydration as well as the balance of several key minerals including magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, and calcium.
Ideally, we’d all drink spring water exclusively, so check out findaspring.com and stock up when you can. Spring water contains the right balance of what you want in your water (the natural minerals found in spring water) and lacks what you don’t (chlorine, heavy metals, other contaminants). The next best thing is filtered water to avoid chlorine, meaning taking advantage of a free hose is less than optimal in terms of health. We all do it, I do it a lot. I used to have a Berkey water filter in the van which was great until I forgot to strap it down before hitting the road. An inexpensive pitcher type system or buying filtered water are also options. Read more about how the Berkey is the best thing ever here!
To optimize the way your body utilizes water, pay attention to your electrolyte balance by making sure you get those minerals found in spring water but lacking in filtered water. One of the easiest and cheapest things you can do to prime your internal organs before hitting the road is to drink a big glass of water with sea salt (and adding lemon makes it delicious) right when you wake up in the morning.
5. Use supplements to help you reach your goals.
The goal is to get what your body needs through food and lifestyle but supplements do just that, they can help make up for deficiencies where you come up short. You certainly don’t need to take supplements to upgrade your body and mind, but there are some that will dramatically improve your ability to do so. A supplement is something that either enhances or supplements something else, it can be food or even some of the biohacks above, or pills and powders as described below.
Listed below are several to start with that will significantly up your game, as much as 20 percent. A note to start, quality is king and consistency is queen do your research and don’t waste your money.
Supplement with a greens powder to ensure your body is getting the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and more to fill any gaps in your diet. I always recommend a quality greens powder over a multivitamin because nutrients are absorbed by your body like they would be if delivered from a food source. Many (actually, most) multivitamins use cheap, low quality forms of the key ingredients that aren’t absorbed by the body, so greens powders are the way to go.
What I’m currently loving: Perfect Keto Greens Powder.
Vitamin D acts on over a thousand different genes in our bodies and yet most Americans are deficient. It is a hormone that supports mood, energy, sleep, immunity, and brain and digestive functions. Getting vitamin D from from sunlight is superior to any other form–and free–but depending on a persons ability to synthesize it and how you shape your environment, even if you’re outside all day between sun up and sun down you could be deficient in vitamin D. If you’re working inside, wearing clothes, using sunscreen, get sick a lot, and/or are feeling low, you should consider supplementation. If you do supplement, it works even better if you stack it with vitamin K2 and A.
Your body uses magnesium in over 300 enzymatic processes and yet almost 70 percent of Americans are deficient, due to a number of factors, including that it’s now almost impossible to get enough from food alone. Magnesium is really affordable and so important there’s no reason not to take it. I make my own topical magnesium oil which is a super concentrated form of magnesium chloride. Supplementing magnesium through the skin allows dosing higher than what the average person’s digestive system can handle. There are multiple forms of magnesium available in supplements. If I do supplement in pill form, I like to take one with multiple sources unless I’m aiming for a specific benefit form one form or another.
What I keep on hand: Life Extension Magnesium
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Krill Oil)
Unless you’re eating wild fish every day, adding a high quality fish oil to your diet could be one of the single most powerful steps you can take for your brain’s health and function by tackling systemic inflammation throughout the body. I take krill oil because it is absorbed directly by your brain without the additional processing most fish oils require. Krill oil also contains a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin and phosphatidylcholine which supports brain health.
What I’m currently loving: Bulletproof Omega Krill Oil Complex
Vitamin B Complex
B12 and Folate are both required for mental function and a deficiency in one produces a deficiency in the other. B vitamins are used by almost every bodily function, including mitochondrial function and converting nutrients into neurotransmitters. It is best to get both from food, like vegetables, salmon, sardines, but you can also supplement if you aren’t getting enough. Everyone absorbs these nutrients differently so you need to pay attention to your body and supplement with a complex that works for your biology. For example, a lot of people struggle to process folate in the form of folic acid (which is in most budget friendly supplements), so a better option is the methylfolate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). Similarly, the methylated form of vitamin B12, methylcobalamin, is more easily absorbed by the body.
What I’m currently loving: Designs for Health B-Supreme
Curcuminoids, found primarily in turmeric, reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. It may be hard to absorb on its own but you can increase absorption by up to 2,000 percent by combining with with black pepper. You really can’t go wrong here, I add turmeric and black pepper to literally everything as well as supplement with curcumin for its anti-inflammatory properties and cognitive benefits, recover faster, get back on the trail, and literally never take pain medication.
What I’m currently loving: Bulletproof Curcumin Max