Mission Statement

The Biohacking Division at UCLA serves to promote an evolutionary understanding of human health. Human beings are currently embroiled in a period of great evolutionary disequilibrium. Much of our genetic programming no longer serves its original purpose. We are a hodgepodge of solutions (adaptations) to problems (selection pressures) that either no longer exist, or are transformed in some way. Our lives are summarized by the reciprocal interactions between genes and environment. We cannot yet meaningfully address the conundrum of evolutionary disequilibrium by attacking our genetic code.


Thus, our organization seeks to improve the health, productivity, and well-being of its members by instead addressing environment. Towards this end, the Biohacking Division at UCLA offers practical advice that is steeped in evolutionary logic and backed by peer-reviewed science.


Note that biohacks are not a substitute for eating whole foods, exercising, and getting full nights of sleep. Rather, they are adjuncts to an otherwise healthy lifestyle. You can not biohack your way out of consuming a diet that is devoid of nutrients, yet loaded with trademark symbols.

 

Before we begin...

It's important that you understand some of the terminology we'll be using.

  • ​​Evolution - Change over time.

  • Natural selection - Filters out genes that don't work in a specific time and place, leaving mostly the genes that do work.

These remaining genes need only work better than the bad ones—they don't have to work the best, or the most efficiently!

  • EEA - The environment of evolutionary adaptedness. A specific time and place with a set of specific problems.


For a submarine, this would be deep below sea level: no light, very cold, extremely high pressure.

  • Selection pressure - A specific problem in the EEA. If natural selection is a filter, this is the shape and size of that filter. Star shaped holes will preferentially let through star shaped objects while rejecting square or circle shaped objects. If most of the holes in an EEA are star shaped, this will drive selection for star shaped objects while filtering out other shapes.


In our submarine example, the strong forces being applied to the hull are a selection pressure, because they select for sturdy hulls while rejecting the flimsy ones.

  • Adaptation - A solution for a problem; a response to a selection pressure. In the context of a submarine, both thick steel hulls and ballast tanks are examples of an adaptation. The problem that is solved by the ballast tank is, "I need to be able to control my buoyancy." Critically, adaptations are always tailored to a specific EEA.

Note that adaptations are not truly designed. Due to natural selection, we simply won't ever see the ones with wooden or leaden hulls, since these "failures" are automatically filtered out by the environment. Thus, it is better to think about organisms as being shaped by their environment, rather than being designed for it.

  • Mismatch - When an adaptation no longer functions as intended, because it is being used in a different EEA than the one it was "designed" (shaped) for. Imagine what would happen if you transported a submarine into space. Would the diving plane still function as intended?


Biological organisms can experience similar mismatches. Our taste preference for foods that are high in calories is an adaptation meant for an EEA which was scarce in calories and prone to famines. Transport that adaptation into an EEA which is abundant in calories, and a massive mismatch results—widespread obesity. You might be thinking, "Why not simply adapt to this new environment?" The problem with this is that evolution is an extremely slow and gradual process—much slower than technologically driven changes to culture and society.


Our genes have barely changed in the last 200 years, during which time we've gone from from using carriages, to using spacecraft.

 

Our Biohacks

Regularly updated with up-to-date, peer-reviewed science.

 
Woman Sleeping

Sleep

Sleep might be the single most important physiological function in humans—with myriad implications in metabolism, immune function, tumor suppression, cognitive and motor function, and aging. If you could only adopt one biohack, it should be this one.

Diet

A field of study rife with controversy, contradictions, and paradoxes. We try to cut through all of that by using biochemistry in conjunction with evolutionary thinking. This biohack isn't a specific meal plan, so it can be applied to many different plans and ways of eating. Note: If you have a medical condition that requires a specific diet, you should disregard this biohack, and ONLY follow your physician's or nutritionist's instructions.

Contact Us

Please use the adjacent contact form for any inquiries. 


We'd love to know how you've managed to integrate these hacks into your own routine!

 

©2019 by the Biohacking Division at UCLA