Access code to eternal life
The term “biohacking” rapidly penetrated the lexicon of online communities, formed around the health topic. WHAT IS IT — A SKILLFULLY OVERBLOWN EXCITEMENT, PIE IN THE SKY OR REAL ACHIEVABLE PANACEA?
Quite probably, only a little bit.
PHARMACOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC ASPECTS TO THE CORE OF THE SYSTEM
As usual, let’s try to outline concepts first of all. Everything seems to be clear with the first root “bio” in the term “biohacking”. The multiple-meaning “hacking” is a bit tricky. The understandable analogue of the slang word “hack” is “to cut one’s way”. Initially hackers called programmers who, in a quick and elegant way, found the opportunity to bug errors in code. Subsequently, the word “hacker” has become firmly fixed as “computer cracker”. Whatever the motivation of a hacker is, pure interest in the study of a system, or not a very pure interest in profit, in fact hacking is avoidance of the established procedures, increasing privileges for access to where it was not foreseen. When it comes to the human body, the search for ways to more efficiently management of the system is carried out in a variety of ways, from improved performance and to the use of digital devices in the body. What forms can acquire “power-leveling”, when health and longevity are put at stake?
Not the greatest publicity around this topic was recently made by a resident of the Silicon Valley, an entrepreneur of Russian origin, Serge Faguet. He intends to live at least 120 years, and by that time, it is likely that such age will not be limited. At the same time, he plans to live with maximum efficiency, that is, aiming at influencing biochemical processes, to create those physical and mental states that they consider useful. After Mr. Faguet published a post entitled “I’m 32 and spent $200k on biohacking”, it caused stormy discussion in the global network. It is noteworthy that the author’s self-esteem became a separate issue of discussions not related to medicine. The only heading was interpreted as a manifestation of the position: “Look, I earned a lot of money — and could spend them not like everyone else!” However, considering that the wealth of a businessman is estimated at 45 million, his expenses for upgrading the body and the psyche is still cost-effective option.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL
The lion’s share of funds was directed to diagnostic tests and consultations by doctors and psychotherapists. The justification of the principles on which Serge chooses the methods of self-improvement sounds like a real anthem of human rationality: they must be logical, scientifically sound, appraised by experts, optimal in terms of cost-effectiveness and feasibility, confirmed
by objective and subjective indicators. The main points of the program, which are guided by the biochacker, seem to be a catechism of the Healthy Lifestyle at first sight.
- Sleep Hygiene — no specialist will argue here.
- Optimal Exercise are beyond any doubt.
- Mental Health: psychotherapy and meditation — welcome, welcome and once again welcome.
- Optimal Nutrition: sugar as well as alcohol are poisons; cheap products of industrial origin – “no”, organic – “yes”; cyclic fasting and dietary ketosis (maximum fat, minimum carbohydrates). At this stage nutritionists begin to point to certain distortions.
- Medical Testing. Control over the body is exercised by hundreds of indicators, from vital to “just interesting”.
- In addition – taking supplements and drugs, literally handful of them. In addition to vitamins and extracts there are hormones, nootropics, antidepressants, in general, a whole pharmaceutical guide-book.
The experimenter argues that the data of regular surveys and well-being indicate the success of his actions. However, commentators doubt the consequences that may have the use of such quantity of medicinal products, their interaction with each other and raise the question of whether “manual” control make the body to overextend itself. As a result, doctors of almost all specialities — even to psychiatrists who emphasized excessive concern for own health got the opportunity to criticize individual points of the program and to fear the possible consequences of the use of almost hundreds of pharmaceuticals per day.
The requirements of healthy lifestyle are in fact general. They fit millions, but do not indicate what to do specifically for you. Biohacking, if it is understood as a more targeted, compared to healthy lifestyle, prevention, is different in that it is based on personal data. For example, there is no need to take vitamin D in the event that the test results confirmed: it’s quite enough. And the “correct” biochaker must have a lot of tests: biological, instrumental, genetic. The latter, by the way, are often idealized as if they can indicate what to eat or what not to eat, for example due to intolerance. In most cases this is not the case. However, competently conducted genetic tests help to assess the risks of diseases and to adjust lifestyle, including nutrition. Just adjust it — but not to describe it for you or your trainer or doctor.
Another possible aspect of the comparison: if healthy lifestyle is a compliance with the idea of nature, then biohacking is an attempt to improve this idea. And there are very good prospects in this ambitious intention. New works appear every year that show a successful attempt to “edit” the human genome. Gene engineering allows changing the sequence of genes in adults as well as in human embryos. The potential of these technologies is enormous, if everything goes as expected, then mankind will receive a significant number of medicinal products that will affect the root causes of the disease, and not the symptoms, in 20 years.
OLEKSANDR KOLYADA, Research Fellow of the Laboratory of Epigenetics, Institute of Gerontology of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine
AN AGE-LONG DREAM —NEW TOOL
However, “blamestorming” of a millionaire-experimenter and evaluation of his prospects — this is not all the range of problems that arises when considering the phenomenon of biohacking. In particular, there remains the question of what it forces to distinguish this approach from other ways to longevity and talk about it as a new trend. After all, the guides for hunters for exceptional abilities are as old as the hills! There will be always those for whom general ideas of health will be not enough. There will be always those who believe that the mystery of the essence of the universe will guide the path to eternal life. “Hackers” of the body do not differ in this from, for example, Taoist alchemists who were looking for immortality, fiddled with elixirs or immersed in spiritual searches. What distinguishes today’s contenders for exclusivity? If we leave aside the question of mastery in meditation and other psychophysical practices, then without any doubt: in comparison with other epochs, the science of the 21st century provided adherents of longevity with an enormous number of tools that enable them to control the organism and influence its condition.
However, the science is not yet sure about the consequences which attempts to use all together, simultaneously and immediately, will cause. Finally, the basis of the current scientific paradigm is the idea of the repetition of the experiment and the accumulation of statistically significant data — and in fact, there are not so many millionaires who are ready to consistently do experiments on themselves. If you look closely, the more difficult part to understand in the word “biohacking” is “bio” rather than “hacking” — the mystery of life is not explained in detail. All that is left to do is to observe, how the extreme actions of radical biohackers will end. In view of the seriousness of their intentions to live very long, it is worth not to get some popcorn ready while observing, but have own lifehacks that will allow making life longer and improving it.
And most of these tips, which (see above) are logical, scientifically sound, appraised by experts, are optimal in terms of cost-effectiveness and affordability and confirmed by objective and subjective indicators, after all, coincide with the general guidelines of the healthy lifestyle concept.
The main difference between the biohacking and the health care system and healthy lifestyle: health begins to be perceived as a measurable and managed resource. And it is the primary source of all life’s achievements. More health — more energy to achieve the most ambitious goals. Also, due to the complexity of the approach, it is possible to cure diseases that have been interfering for a long time. And to prevent the disease by catching it in the early stages of progress.
Biohacking is focused on the creation of the most complete picture, which involves not only purely medical data, but also an analysis of lifestyle and necessarily mental health. The most expedient is the personalized, controlled, gradual and non-significant correction of lifestyle. Wellness procedures, if necessary, can include both pharmacological products and physiotherapy, manual techniques, and biotechnology, in particular the use of regenerative potential of stem cells.
If, however, to talk about the famous biohackers, the most illustrative example is the example of business icons of the 21st century — Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The mere look at their photos shows that their health parameters have not deteriorated with age, but have improved. We also see what success they have achieved in other areas of life. So, we are very grateful to Serge Faguet for the resonance he managed to create around the topic of biohacking, but his results cannot be called outstanding.
SVIATOSLAV KHANENKO, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Biohacking Clinic SQLAB