On Hacks

I don’t much care for “hacks” as it pertains to how most “biohackers” tend to use them. I feel that many of the instruments and tools that are used to attempt to measure spurious relationships as causative are just that: spurious. It’s techno navel gazing at its finest.

And in spite of that, so much of what we do on a daily basis amounts to a hack. Education is a hack, directions are a hack, and family recipes are a hack. Hack in the context of having greased the skids, to help someone move through some mildly thorny (read: obnoxious) parts of life with a smoother path. While the map is not the territory, it helps to have a heading and delimit the expected outcomes. Thus, a hack.

For maximizing health span, you’ll end up using hacks unless you happen to already have gained the lucky advantage of being 80+ and living in a Blue Zone. By which I mean if a team of sociologists, epidemiologists, and demographers comes to your town to make changes to your built environment that results in more walking, more fresh food, and more human-friendly open spaces, you’re benefiting from a hack. If you have a family history of cancer (like me!) and take up a 3 day fast every 3 to 6 months, you’re benefiting from a hack. If you have osteoporosis and you take up resistance training, you’re benefiting from a hack.

Of course, the hacks work better if you put in the effort. The upgraded environment only improves health span if you engage in it, the fasting is made better by improving overall diet quality, and the osteoporosis is improved much faster if you increase non-exercise physical activity in minimal shoes. The map doesn’t get you to your destination; you still have to put on your shoes and walk!

2 thoughts on “On Hacks

  1. Have you written about occasional 3-day fasts before? Specific to the idea of being a benefit for those with cancer in their family history? I’d love to learn more about this “hack”!

    1. Rob,
      I haven’t but I could in the future. There’s a (much, much, MUCH) longer discussion between the work of Valter Longo, Dom D’Agostino, and Thomas Seyfried. You might find Dom D’Agostino’s interviews on the Tim Ferriss podcast to be a great jumping off point or read this (quite technical) blog post: https://thequantifiedbody.net/fast-mimicking-diet/

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