by Terry Kozmor
Biohacking is more than a buzzword or a fad. Thanks to constant advances in our understanding of how the body works and how it is affected by its environment, biohacking is here to stay. A biohacker is somebody who uses science and technology to make his or her body function better and more efficiently. Biohacking aims to improve our overall well-being by optimizing nutrition, sleep, mind, heart, gut, fitness, and any other lifestyle factors that influence our health.
Our gut is affected by our lifestyle as a whole, including what we eat, how often we exercise, our stress level, and our hormones to name a few. Until recently, we haven’t been able to get a good idea of what is actually going on in an individual’s gut. That’s why when a client seeks optimal wellness, I encourage them to first do a little biohacking by using an Ixcela Internal Fitness™ test to identify areas that need improvement.
Making lifestyle changes based on science is the beauty of biohacking. Rather than guessing how to achieve full-body wellness, you can implement changes based on your unique makeup. This helps you prioritize and focus on the aspects of your health that need the most attention. Not only will you feel your progress, you are able to measure your improvement.
There are five main categories of the Ixcela Internal Fitness™ test: Gastrointestinal Fitness, Immuno Fitness, Emotional Balance, Cognitive Acuity, and Energetic Efficiency. When we dive deeper into each category, we see that each is affected by the three main components of health: mind, body, and nutrition.
Maintaining the integrity of the gut is critical to maintaining optimal health. A majority of our gut health comes from our nutrition and resting our minds, but there are ways to improve gastrointestinal fitness through exercise. Proper stretching, resistance training, and high-intensity interval training are three great workout routines to keep in mind when looking to improve (and maintain) a healthy gut and stay regular.
More than 80% of the immune system lives in the gut, so it is no surprise that the two have a strong connection. Maintaining gut health allows our bodies to fight infection and avoid sickness. Daily exercise is a key way to maintain a healthy gut and keep you from getting sick. (1) Even if my clients have a small bout of sickness (such as a stomach ache or a head cold), I recommend that they continue to work out. The only time I would recommend resting instead of working out is when you have a fever and/or signs of the flu.
It’s no secret that stress takes a serious toll on us mentally and physically. While there are various external factors that impact everyday stress (family, work, sleep, relationships), it is important to note the incredibly positive impact that exercising has on stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity allows our brains to release endorphins, shed emotional stress, improve sleep, and lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression. (2) To achieve this, I recommend that my clients partake in some form of physical activity for at least thirty minutes every day.
The relationship between the gut and the brain, also known as the gut-brain axis, is extremely important and something that deserves biohackers’ attention. You can’t reach your full health potential by ignoring the gut-brain axis. Not only does the gut affect the brain, but our mental health affects the gut. Improving gut health and taking steps, like exercise, to promote brain health reduces stress and combats the negative effects of stress on our microbiome. Research has shown time and time again that exercise is beneficial for stress management and is a natural mood booster, making it indirectly beneficial to the health of the gut microbiome as well.
The gut microbiome plays a critical part in digestion and absorption of food. If we aren’t digesting or absorbing nutrients properly, we won’t be adequately fueled with energy for our everyday lives, let alone for physical activity. While much of this is achieved through nutrition, fitness also plays a part. By committing to cardiovascular exercise at least six days per week—a mix of high-intensity and varied-intensity training—our bodies will begin to improve how they utilize fuel for energy. This results in better workouts, reduced heart disease, and overall better health.
We can all decide to exercise every day, eat more vegetables, or practice mindfulness, but the best approach is to use the science available to you. When we are able to understand what is happening inside our bodies—and the gut—we are better able to achieve results on the outside. Using Ixcela’s technology, you can assess how well your gut is functioning and prioritize the lifestyle changes that will help you achieve your goals.
Terry Kozmor has been in the health and wellness industry for more than 15 years. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in exercise science, he began his career in fitness. In addition to being Ixcela’s fitness expert, Terry is also the Director of Fitness at Lynx Fitness Club in Boston, Mass., where he oversees a group of specialized personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and nutritionists. He is an avid athlete himself and you can often find him outside snowboarding, surfing, or hiking.
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Interested in learning more about Ixcela? Check out Ixcela’s microbiome test, personalized nutrition and fitness plans, and other tools to help you optimize your health.