We continue with our series of interviews and today we present to you Balázs Csanak, a biohacker from Hungary, currently living in Austria.
Bali, as most people call him, is originally an economist and IT professional, but after working in this field for 7 years, he realised he wasn’t truly interested in doing that, so he wanted to find his true passion. After trying many things, he is currently a massage therapist, fitness trainer, sports nutrition consultant, while at the same time he is working on a comprehensive biohacking health program with his partner. Let’s dive in and learn more about him and his work.
Bali, what got you into biohacking and how long ago was that?
My learning curve may seem a bit unusual. I started this transformation around 10 years ago when I realized I was no longer interested in working in the IT sector, nor in being an economist. This was just not what I really wanted to do. I wanted to get out of this vicious cycle and find something I am really passionate about.
This is when I started training. Up to that time, I had been leading a sedentary lifestyle, I had all kinds of aches in my body, I was in a very bad condition both physically and mentally. I started with kettlebells and fell in love with it so much that I got an instructor certification, but even then I saw it as a side thing and I didn’t think I would work in this field. My first mentor and trainer taught me a lot and opened my eyes to a whole different world in terms of health. For example, I realized that the official guidelines for nutrition have limitations and the folks who are creating them are trying to be on the safe side, following the “one size fits all” approach. I think the same applies to other aspects of our medical systems. However, I think that what is good for one is not always good for the other. Another example is when you go to your general practitioner – he or she may have 5 to 10 minutes for you, and if the problem is not obvious (like it is with chronic issues) this time is simply not enough for the doctor to deeply understand your problem and come up with the right solution, even if they are completely knowledgeable. This is why I find it very important to observe ourselves and pay attention to what our bodies are trying to tell us – such as our reactions to certain foods, physical activity, supplements… This all got me into biohacking, or as I like to say it, a healthy lifestyle.
From your perspective, what defines you as a biohacker?
Honestly, I am not really into labeling. I simply do the things that interest me – reading, listening and implementing the knowledge for things that can keep me going and make me better. And, as it turns out, what I’ve implemented into my life fits into the label of ‘biohacking’. Some habits that I’ve adopted are healthy eating, intermittent fasting, taking care of my sleep, training, meditation, earthing (walking barefoot).
How do you keep up to date with biohacking?
First – I follow online a lot of trust-worthy biohackers, researchers, health professionals – what they do and what they say. Then, I like looking at the research they refer to and read the main sources of information, such as articles from PubMed, Nature, BMG. Finally, I do my own experiments to see how these findings and recommendations affect me, and whether they are applicable to me.
Generally, what I use is a more natural approach to biohacking. I think it’s important to try and integrate healthy habits into your life without them preventing you from doing your other chores and having a social life. It is more about small but consistent changes.
Have you heard of epigenetics?
Yes, I know that it has to do with how the environment affects our gene expression. I haven’t done an epigenetic test yet but I am open to doing it in the future. Epigenetics is also something I am taking into account in my program. I think Biohacking is unimaginable without epigenetics, since it is the environment we alter in order to optimize ourselves, and through the altered environment we alter how our genes express themselves.
Would you tell us more about your program?
With my partner, András Rácz, who is another avid, well-known biohacker in Hungary, we are about to start a 3-month beginner biohacking course where you can learn the basics of biohacking, available also for individuals, but the focus is on companies, because there it has a cumulative effect, plus I believe in a win-win-win set-up, where we all – these are: the employers, the employees and us – are winning.
Each and every year, organisations spend a lot of money on sick leaves, partly because of the direct administrative costs, and partly because of the indirect cost, when the employees are not able to work. The most frequent reasons behind sick leaves are workplace stress, sleep disorder, sedentary lifestyle, inappropriate diet, inappropriate breathing, malaise, distorted perception – see the physiological effects of sleep deprivation, like negative mindset, irritability, unnecessary risk taking, and bad food choices – and the psyche. When combined, these can end up in more serious conditions, ie. cardiovascular diseases or metabolic diseases. It characterizes the everyday lives of many professionals today – be they employees, managers and / or owners, in almost every business. This has an impact on the efficiency of the workers, as well as on their health. Understand: they work less efficiently (a task takes longer to complete), they have more sick leaves, which affect the worker’s own self-image, sense of usefulness, and have a (negative) impact on the costs and prestige of the company. And when I say workers, I also mean individuals, because on some extent, we all are workers, even as entrepreneurs we are employed by ourselves.
Our program is designed to solve the aforementioned problems with biohacking tools, cutting the process as short as possible, as effective as possible, by teaching the individuals how to become biohackers themselves, and gain back control over their own health through optimizing their sleep, breathing, eating, physical activities, and mental states. With its help, the company gains healthy, more resilient employees / private individuals, who are able to handle stress much better, who work more efficiently – and sometimes more creatively – and who will be even happier and mentally more stable.
Finally, what would you say to our readers who might be interested in biohacking? Any tips for the first steps?
I would say, as a starting point, that biohacking begins with, is becoming mindful about everything you do. Not only physically, but also mentally. You have to start observing what happens in your body and in your mind, considering that they are interconnected. None of them can exist without the other. By learning to observe, you will find out what makes you happy, what type of changes affect you, how you can calm the ego down.
Start by following other biohackers, listen to them and they can provide you with a huge amount of useful information – not only theoretical, but based on a lot of real experiments and experiences. Do your own research and go to the real sources of information, but also learn how to read them and which one of them you can consider trustworthy because not all of them are.