Is it possible to change your chemistry and genetic expression with science and lifestyle choices? The concept of biohacking says yes, and with integrative medicine you can create a plan for revitalizing your most essential asset–your brain.
Learning how to biohack your brain can help you overcome fatigue, have enhanced focus, and a more stable mood–all of which serve to keep you happier and increase your quality of life.
When you calm inflammation, fuel your brain properly, and leverage the right nootropics, you can optimize the way your nervous system functions.
So what’s the best way to biohack your brain? Follow along to learn the incredible benefits of these biohacks.
What Is Biohacking?
The term “biohacking” applies to any action you take in the effort to modify the way your biochemistry responds to your environment. This can be as simple as getting early morning sunlight to regulate your circadian rhythm, or using integrative medicine methods to upregulate antioxidant glutathione with IV drip therapy.
The study of epigenetics is the science behind the biohacking movement.
These actions, plus many more, can influence genetic expression and affect your health both for better or worse–depending on your choices. Being sedentary, and consuming a high sugar diet–for example–would be ways to negatively impact your genetic expression.
Using Epigenetics To Heal Your Body
Biohacking your body and mind can empower you to take action to overcome many complex health conditions, including those driven by fatigue, low energy, and stress. This includes recovery after an illness, as well as post-viral inflammatory complications.
Integrative doctors are still working to fully understand why post-viral syndrome causes side effects like fatigue and brain fog, but it may involve:
- Increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines, which increase inflammation
- nervous tissue inflammation
Using epigenetic mechanisms can support healthy nervous system function, as well as help to resolve inflammation involved in chronic fatigue.
What follows are the most effective ways integrative medicine can help you use biohacking to restore vitality to your mind and body.
Nootropics to Improve Focus and Memory
Research in the past decade has unveiled a new category of supplements called nootropics (pronounced nō-ə-ˈtrō-pik) which provide specific ingredients to protect your brain and facilitate optimal learning, focus, and memory, and mood.
The best nootropic supplements include:
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Supports mental energy and combats fatigue
- Bacopa – Supports increased focus and memory.
- Rhodiola – Helps to manage stress.
- L-Theanine – Promotes calm and relaxation.
- PQQ – to boost energy level, focus, and longevity.
- Vitamin D – To regulate mood and has been shown to alleviate depressive symptoms.
- Phosphatidylserine – For memory and nervous system communication.
- Omega-3 fats – To modulate inflammation.
You can also find a treasure of nootropic super foods in the mushroom kingdom. Recent research has shown the lion’s mane mushroom can protect against oxidative damage, promote a healthy immune response, and support focus and mood. It’s praised for its role in protecting the myelin surrounding axons within the brain (1).
If your brain needs help finding calm and relaxation, consider another mushroom, reishi, for a calming tonic that can help restore balance to your HPA axis, as well as relieve stress and promote focus.
Fast to Fuel Your Brain
Fasting is one easy and inexpensive way to increase ketone availability to your brain. Your brain loves to burn ketones for energy because this source of fuel doesn’t generate as much oxidative stress as burning glucose (2).
For those who practice intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, this gives your body increased time spent in a fat-burning, ketone-producing state, and can support healthy brain function and reduced inflammation.
What kind of fuel is best for you? Integrative medicine can help you figure it out! Working with our nutrition team can help you discover which eating pattern is aligned with your chemistry.
Get More Sleep to Protect Your Brain
While sleep is probably the least exciting recommendation for reduced fatigue and a happier brain, it might be the most beneficial. One 2021 study showed that 5 hours or less of sleep resulted in an increased risk of death and a greater risk of dementia (3).
While asleep, your brain performs several essential housekeeping functions, including the removal of metabolic waste products by the glymphatic system, and the repair of oxidative damage caused by stress.
There are many nootropics that can both help you fall asleep quicker, and stay asleep longer. Aim to quiet cortisol levels in the evening with ingredients like magnolia bark or magnesium.
Additionally, getting sunlight early in the day and regular exercise can promote a healthy circadian rhythm and a restful night’s sleep.
High-Intensity Exercise Increases Neuroplasticity
Physical exercise enhances a process in the brain called neuroplasticity, which is your brain’s ability to adapt and change over your lifetime.
Enhanced neuroplasticity can delay Alzheimer’s disease, in addition to things like bolster your mood and cognitive function (4).
When you exercise, your brain upregulates a specialized protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which promotes the survival of neurons.
What makes high-intensity exercise a more desirable form of movement is its ability to switch on genes that prompt your brain and body to adapt to physiological challenges. During this process, your brain becomes increasingly resilient, and boosts neuroplasticity.
Exercise of any kind also increases your insulin sensitivity and promotes a healthy blood sugar balance, two things that are crucial to the function of your nervous system and metabolism.
Quench Free-Radicals with Polyphenols
Free radicals get produced in your body as a byproduct of normal metabolic function, but when they build up due to various factors, they cause oxidative damage and inflammation in your tissues.
Oxidative damage within the brain as a result of illness, stress, or a poor diet can result in neuroinflammation, which harms the development of new brain cells.
Polyphenols are plant compounds that have been shown to do everything from boost cognitive function to switch on genes involved in calming inflammation and reducing oxidative stress (5).
How can you increase your consumption of beneficial polyphenols? Eat foods that are rich in plant pigments like dark, leafy greens, purple and red foods (which contain a phytonutrient called anthocyanin), and cacao.
Cacao is one of the most polyphenol dense-foods in the world, with the flavonoids in dark chocolate acting upon an area in the brain called the dentate gyrus, where neurogenesis occurs (6).
The Best Foods for Energy
Eating the right foods is an important part of providing the right nutrients your brain needs to be able to repair tissues and protect your brain cells, giving you more energy and supporting focus and concentration.
Some of the most beneficial foods energy production and brain health are:
- Eggs, including the yolk. Choline in the yolk provides the backbone of your brain cells’ phospholipid bilayer, the membrane that surrounds and protects your neurons. Plus, eggs are a good source of vitamin D and DHA.
- Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane, which helps your body produce more of the antioxidant glutathione to protect against oxidative damage.
- Foods that contain beneficial polyphenols include dark chocolate (and cacao), blueberries, green tea, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Omega-3 fats from fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
Read: 7 Key Foods for Brain Health to learn more.
Powering Epigenetics with Integrative Medicine
Whether you’re recovering from a previous illness that’s causing you fatigue, brain fog, or low energy, or just want to fully optimize your health. Biohacking can help you tap into your epigenetics to discover your body’s formula for better health.
An integrative medicine doctor can help you properly leverage supplements such as nootropics, while decreasing systemic inflammation, and resolving nervous system dysfunction that holds you back from feeling your best.