Biohacking summit in Helsinki and adventures in Finland

I’ve just returned home after a wonderful 10 days in Finland! I went to Helsinki to attend the Biohacking summit on 13-14th October, followed by a few days up North with the finacee (in the Arctic circle!) staying in a log cabin, then back to Helsinki for a few days..

The summit was great; the first conference of this kind that I’ve ever been to. I watched a few interesting talks, tried out various gadgets, tasted healthy things like green powders, medicinal mushrooms and adaptogens, and chatted to happy passionate people. My favourite talks were Ben Greenfield’s microbiome talk, Joseph Cohen’s (from Selfhacked and Selfdecode) talk on biohacking,  Quantified Bob’s exploration of extensive biomarker tracking and “n=1” self experimentation, and Jakko Halmetoja’s  talks on wild foods, medicinal mushrooms and biohacking stress. While a lot of stuff talked about was stuff I already knew (e.g power of adaptogens to mitigate stress, the fact that wild foods are almost always more nutritious than their cultivated counterparts etc, etc), I also learned a few things such as how coconut oil can cause inflammation in the gut UNLESS eaten with fibre/vegetables, and that to maximise sauna detoxing, you should take niacin beforehand to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow to the skin.

In terms of edibles I tried, I particular liked Arctic warriors little packets of arctic herbs like rhodiola rosea, angelica and nettle infused into raw honey or glycerol. They were sweet and pungent, and a really nice way to take these supplements as opposed to swallowing pills. Polar nutrition had instant chaga mushroom powder that you dissolve in water and drink, which was surprisingly tolerable. I also loved Foodin’s raw peppermint and orange chocolates (I kinda wished I bought more!)and I tried the only instant butter coffee product, Warrior coffee which was actually pretty delicious with it’s strong vanilla flavour (but I’m too much of a coffee traditionalist to start having instant even if it is great quality).

There were various exhibitors there using technology to improve health and wellness. I tried a bed called Bemer that purports to improve microcirculation; didn’t feel much different but who knows? I particularly liked the power plate ; you feel every part of your body vibrate, and I am convinced of the health benefits. Light cognitive had “Big sky”, a huge sunlight emulating light panel. We’re really starting to learn about the effects of different wavelengths of light and how to manipulate artificial light via full spectrum lights or blue blocking glasses etc to align circadian rhythms. One of the talks even had a useful graph comparing natural light to various types of bulbs (see picture above). Another gadget I was excited to see was the Oura ring, which is top on my list of wellness trackers to buy (it is the most comprehensive and advanced one I have found). They had run out of my size, but I’m ordering one as soon as stocks are in! And of-course, since we were in Finland, there was a wood fired sauna and an ice bath, to experience the benefits of extreme heat and extreme cold. The sauna was the perfect ice-breaker (no pun intended); it was really easy to get chatting to fellow biohackers when you’re sweating (and possibly naked) in close proximity to each other! I also managed to submerge myself in the ice bath straight after the sauna until my toes hurt from the cold (20 seconds probably), but my next goal is to learn the Wim Hof breathing method and stay in for longer.

Overall, I really enjoyed the conference. My only complaints are that there weren’t many biohacker-level food choices for lunch, and the full price ticket of around 500 euros was too steep for what it was (I bought the early bird ticket with the Bengreenfield discount which was around 200 euros).

After the conference, a few days up north (a place called Pelkosenniemi) in a log cabin, with another wood fired sauna, log fires, and cosy-ness with my partner were *just*what I needed. We even had snow one night, but unfortunately the sky was never clear enough to see the northern lights.  The lovely Finnish ‘grandparents’ whose cabin we were renting even brought us wild bilberries (which contain hundreds of times more antioxidants then cultivated blueberries, as explained in Jakko’s lecture at the conference), and drove us up to the ski resort to have a look around. I feel like I’ve had a much needed “winter reset”, and am ready to do everything I need and want to this winter :). Who’s in for Biohacking Summit 2018 in Stockholm?? 😀

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