by -Sajeev Nair
Technology and especially digital tech is without doubt the prime force driving the heightened interest in biohacking today. The new breed of wearable health trackers like smartwatches, fitness bands, cardiac trackers, glucose monitors etc. are bringing in consumers, especially the younger crowd, who are otherwise not very keen about taking charge of their health, into biohacking. This is especially true in India, where love for shiny new gadgets reign high.
On the psychological or mental performance side of things too, there have been tools like meditation apps by various vendors that have found broad acceptance in India, as the country has been the cradle of meditative practices from ancient times.
While I broadly appreciate the good work these wearables and mobile applications have been doing, it is important to realise that these are only the first steps in a biohacking revolution. True biohacking involves much more, and that much more doesn’t necessarily mean more of technology, especially digitalisation, which is at best a convenient mode of measurement and delivery of various health metrics. What true biohacking calls for is innovative health-tech that enables personalised and preventive healthcare.
During the last two decades, personalisation and prevention have undergone a sea change from utopian ideas, to something that is research-validated and something that anyone can embrace. Today, innovative genomics-based personalised lifestyle management solutions are available in India too, and some of them work by running detailed genetic tests as well as comprehensive metabolic assessments on each client, based on which a personalised set of lifestyle modifications are prescribed.
This is in no way an easy task as a person’s genomic data in itself is formidable in size. Once again, tech and innovation come to the rescue, with such solutions using Artificial Intelligence to manage the genomic complexity, to analyse it together with metabolic test results and to generate personalised and comprehensive lifestyle modifications spanning diet, nutrition, supplements, exercise, yoga, meditation, breath work, de-stressing, detoxing etc. And these lifestyle suggestions are prescribed to the user via smartphone apps for iOS and Android devices.
Such genomic solutions deliver an advanced level of biohacking as such personalised and comprehensive lifestyle changes are epigenetic in nature that is capable of overriding even the genetic risks for developing various diseases, without actually making changes in the genetic material. While such a genomic test alone can detect the inherited chances for developing any among 250+ lifestyle diseases, coupling it with a metabolic assessment too, greatly enhances its reliability by eliminating false positives and including risks that would be missed otherwise.
Other emerging technologies like blockchains, Web 3 and metaverses, as well as health-tech like gut microbiome testing also rank high among innovative means to advance the science and practice of biohacking. While gut microbiome testing is still to catch up big time in India, nutritional biohacks that enhance the gut microbiome diversity and thus overall health are already here in the country. India holds great promise in this regard as it is the land of Ayurveda, with many of its herbs and formulations acting as powerful probiotics and prebiotics, some of which are today available in convenient capsule form too.
Innovative applications of technology can also be a great enabler when it comes to lifestyle management. Lifestyle modifications involve change in deeply held habits and as such calls for an encouraging environment. While traditional companies and even commercial start-ups have only a limited influence in this regard, decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) can deliver much more. Blockchain and Web 3 can be used to create, grow and sustain such self-governed and beneficial biohacking communities.
Some of the first such lifestyle modification communities that are based on blockchain and Web 3 technologies like decentralisation and user governance have emerged in recent quarters. They work as both a meeting ground for wellness seekers from the world over and wellness providers of every kind, using metaverse tools like VR/AR/XR, and as well as provide motivation rewards for users to take up lifestyle modifications and stick with it.
Sajeev Nair, Founder & Chairman, Vieroots Wellness Solutions
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