“Bio-Hacking” As Competitive Business Advantage

IMAGE: Andrew MasonEntrepreneur Dave Aspry of BulletproofExec.com wants you to know that “bio-hacking” — optimizing your body and brain — is a competitive business advantage.

He should know; he’s pioneered the term to describe wiring his muscles and mental capacity to push the boundaries of maximum performance. He claims to have spent over $250,000 on various experiments ranging from habit changes to electrode brain probes to find the mix of approaches he calls “bulletproof.”

Among the claims Aspry makes is having dramatically improved both his waistline and his IQ — and he’ll sell you supplements, coffee, and educational materials so you can do the same. Fascinating stuff.

Now there are increasingly easy and inexpensive ways to “bio-hack” your body and mind to perform at your best. With enhanced performance come enhanced results. What entrepreneur or business owner would argue with that logic?

Brian Training
Let’s start with the gray matter between your ears. New research indicates that the brain’s plasticity is not, as previously thought, set in stone. While you have a genetic baseline of intelligence you also have the ability to improve it. There are really no downsides to actively working to improve your brainpower, whether you are a business owner or not.

Lumosity.com, for example, offers “brain training” developed by a group of neuroscientists. Members play computerized games on a regular training schedule. The aim is to grow new neurons and strengthen existing connections in a process known as neuroplasticity.

You choose the areas you’d like to improve — ranging from attention to arithmetic — and the site will serve up Web-based games tailored to improve your synapses. You can sign up for daily brain training for roughly $80/year, which gives you a personalized profile of brain strengths and tracks your improvement over time.

Power Eating and Drinking
There is endless debate over what diet supports brain and body best. Advocates appear on all ends of the spectrum from vegans to paleo practitioners. Until there is a personalized medical device that measures palate to performance, it comes down to personal experimentation.

There appear to be some basics regardless of diet specifics to maximize health benefits. These include: keep your blood sugar on an even keel with regularly planned meals; select foods from a variety of sources to maximize vitamin and mineral intake; and avoid obvious “junk” food full of chemicals and empty calories.

Don’t forget to drink water, too! Staying properly hydrated with water has demonstrated health and performance benefits, including scoring higher on tests. To solve business challenges you need to bring your best thinking, from your stomach to your brain. Drinking more tap water costs nothing at all.

Physical Exercise
There’s no doubt everyone in modern society can benefit from more exercise. Since so many of us work sitting down, a free and important health move is to stand up more, even if doing so can’t entirely erase a sedentary day.

Workouts that raise your heartbeat and get your blood pumping are a boon to business builders because they release the feel-good endorphins. The Mayo Clinic reminds us that exercise leads to reduced stress levels — a necessary counterpoint to the stresses of running the show.

Entrepreneurs particularly gain exercise benefits such as improved creativity, raised energy levels, increased concentration, and longer lifespan, reminds us Kevin Asuncion at Under30CEO.com.

Standing up and moving more are both business-related goals of mine this year. Cost to keep moving: free, if you consciously stand, walk, and look for more opportunities to stay active.

Sleep
No “bio-hacking” would be complete without a review of your sleep patterns and how they affect your performance.

It’s easy to view sleep as time you could spend doing something “more useful,” but more evidence is mounting that a “full 8″ is vital. For example, performing on a two-week stretch on just six hours of sleep each night can result in cognitive performance on par with being drunk, reports The New York Times.

Further, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) demonstrates that partial sleep deprivation has a profound effect on mood — and we all know that controlling emotions is a critical component of entrepreneurship.

The good news is that regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep deeper, too, as long as you do it a few hours before bedtime. Cost: free, if you train yourself to go to bed earlier.

The idea of “bio-hacking” is increasingly becoming a mainstream concept. Will it hold the key to stretching our limits? Perhaps. One thing is for sure: Entrepreneurs and business owners of all sizes will be eager to play a for-profit position in the trend.

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Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist writing for Vistaprint Deals, the official provider of Vistaprint coupons. Katie is also a small business owner and covers numerous business topics including marketing and entrepreneurship.