Can you really biohack your way to better health and wellness?


In this article, we explore the biohacking potential of two specific nutrients: collagen peptides and resveratrol.

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Photo ©

According to a Forbes article, “Biohacking, also known as human augmentation or human enhancement, is do-it-yourself biology aimed at improving performance, health, and wellbeing through strategic interventions.”1 Sounds like a pretty cool, high-tech approach to making our bodies function better, right?

If you want to know some of the actual biohacking techniques mentioned in the article, they include, but are not limited to:

  • Meditation
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Nutrigenomics (how nutrients impact the way your genes express themselves)
  • Augmentation (embedding magnets, chips, or computers under the skin)

Now, if you’re thinking that the first two techniques don’t sound very high tech, you’re right. Meditation and intermittent fasting have been around for a very long time. But you have to admit it sounds a lot sexier to refer to them as biohacking rather than just meditation and intermittent fasting.

In any case, I won’t address these two topics since they’ve been adequately addressed elsewhere. Neither will I be addressing augmentation since it has no relationship to nutrition/dietary supplementation. From my perspective, nutrigenomics is much more of what I’d consider to be an appropriate biohacking topic, so that will be my focus in this article.

Nutrigenomics Explained

According to the International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics,2 the way to explain nutrigenomics is to say that dietary substances can influence gene expression. Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product. These products are often proteins, but in non-protein coding genes such as ribosomal RNA (rRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), or small nuclear RNA (snRNA) genes, the product is a functional RNA. The expression of these gene products can have some very specific effects on our health and wellbeing.

Now let’s take a look at some specific examples of nutrigenomics. Since there are way too many nutrient/gene interactions to discuss, I’ll limit my examples to collagen peptides and resveratrol.

Collagen Peptides

Collagen is the main structural protein found in skin and other connective tissues. Collagen is so vital to our health and wellbeing that it actually makes up 25%-35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen peptides refer to a small collagen protein chain. The significance of this is that smaller protein chains—or peptides—tend to be easily absorbed and distributed in the body.3

As dietary supplements, collagen peptides are quite popular for helping to reduce skin wrinkles while improving hydration and elasticity. These effects appear to be related to a nutrigenomic relationship with matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are a group of enzymes that can break down proteins such as collagen and elastin (another connective tissue protein in the skin).4 Apparently, collagen peptides down-regulate those genes that express (i.e., produce) and activate MMPs.

Laboratory research also shows that collagen peptides can stimulate the production of collagen and can be metabolized into even smaller peptides known as dipeptides. In turn, these dipeptides can stimulate fibroblasts (cells that contribute to the formation of connective tissues) and chondrocytes (cells responsible for cartilage formation) to synthesize hyaluronic acid, which helps retain water in both the skin and synovial fluid.5 In addition, animal research suggests that collagen peptides can prevent ultraviolet-induced skin damage by increasing the number of fibroblasts and the density and thickness of collagen fibrils in the skin.5 Published studies on the Verisol brand of collagen peptides show that the ingredient stimulates the production of procollagen 1 (a collagen precursor), elastin, and fibrillin (a glycoprotein essential to the formation of elastic fibers found in connective tissue), resulting in a reduction in skin wrinkles and skin roughness with improvements in skin elasticity and moisture.6,7


Before discussing resveratrol, let’s first discuss the gene it impacts: the SIRT1 gene, often referred to as the “longevity gene.” A primary product of the SIRT1 gene is SIRT1 (“the sirtuin protein”), hence the gene’s name. In the field of aging and age-related diseases, there is increasing evidence that sirtuins may provide novel targets for treating diseases associated with aging. These include neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and metabolic-related diseases, among others.8 SIRT1/sirtuin is also reported to play a crucial role in metabolic homeostasis and is known to extend the lifespan of some model organisms, suggesting it may also help extend human lifespan.8

Resveratrol is a type of natural phenol produced by several plants in response to injury or attack by pathogens.9,10 These plants include grapes, peanuts11, and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).12 Resveratrol initially made its entrance into the dietary supplement marketplace with great fanfare based upon the fact that intake of it and other polyphenol compounds from red wine may contribute to the “French Paradox”—the unexpectedly low rate of death from cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean population despite the relatively higher intake of saturated fats.13 Excitement then increased with the understanding that resveratrol helped activate the SIRT1 gene associated with longevity.14 The fact that SIRT1/sirtuin helps in the regulation of whole-body cholesterol and other lipids15 may explain resveratrol’s contribution to the French Paradox.

The activation of the SIRT1 gene by resveratrol does have some valuable effects. Published human clinical research has demonstrated that supplementation with resveratrol was capable of significantly reducing arterial stiffness (a major indicator of atherosclerosis)16, reducing inflammation17, increasing gamma-delta T cells (important cells in the immune system)18, improving muscle fiber in combination with exercise in older men and women19, promoting cognitive health20, promoting weight loss21, and even supporting healthy blood sugar levels22 and liver function23.


Using dietary supplements for “biohacking” purposes of improving health and wellness is a real thing and can certainly be accomplished. In this article, due to space limitations, I only discussed the role of collagen peptides and resveratrol as nutrigenomic agents capable of biohacking genes to promote younger-looking skin and support many other aspects of health, respectively.

At some point in time, I’ll probably write some follow-up articles on other nutraceuticals with nutrigenomic effects. Meanwhile, there are numerous studies which have investigated and demonstrated the nutrigenomic effects of a broad range of different nutraceuticals—and I encourage you to spend some time on PubMed researching this fascinating topic.

About the Author

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH (AHG), is a certified nutritionist and registered herbalist with 42 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a master’s degree in nutrition and a second master’s degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at NutraScience Labs and professor of nutraceutical science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.


  1. Marr B. “What’s Biohacking? All You Need to Know About the Latest Health Craze.” Forbes. Published February 26, 2021.
  2. International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics website.
  3. Oesser S et al. “Oral administration of (14)C labeled gelatin hydrolysate leads to an accumulation of radioactivity in cartilage of mice (C57/BL).” Journal of Nutrition, vol. 129, no. 10 (October 1999): 1891-1895
  4. Kim DU et al. “Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in human skin: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 7 (June 26, 2018): 826
  5. Schwartz SR et al. “Ingestion of BioCell Collagen, a novel hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract; enhanced blood microcirculation and reduced facial aging signs.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol. 7 (2012): 267-273
  6. Proksch E et al. “Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, vol. 27, no. 3 (2014): 113-119
  7. Proksch E et al. “Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, vol. 27, no. 1 (2014): 47-55
  8. Zhao L et al. “Sirtuins and their biological relevance in aging and age-related diseases.” Aging and Disease, vol. 11, no. 4 (July 23, 2020): 927-945
  9. Resveratrol.” Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center webpage. Last updated June 11, 2015.
  10. Fremont L. “Biological effects of resveratrol.” Life Sciences, vol. 66, no. 8 (January 14, 2000): 663-673
  11. Soleas GJ et al. “Resveratrol: A molecule whose time has come? And gone?Clinical Biochemistry, vol. 30, no. 2 (March 1997):91-113
  12. Baur JA et al. “Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence.” Nature Reviews. Drug Discovery, vol. 5, no. 6 (June 2006): 493-506
  13. Labinskyy N et al. “Vascular dysfunction in aging: Potential effects of resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory phytoestrogen.” Current Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 13, no. 9 (2006): 989-996
  14. Borra MT et al. “Mechanism of human SIRT1 activation by resveratrol.” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 280, no. 17 (April 29, 2005): 17181-17195
  15. Rahman S et al. “Mammalian Sirt1: Insights on its biological functions.” Cell Communication and Signaling, vol. 9 (May 2011): 11
  16. Imamura H et al. “Resveratrol ameliorates arterial stiffness assessed by Cardio-Ankle Vascular Index in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.” International Heart Journal, vol. 58, no. 4 (August 2017): 577-583
  17. Samsami-Kor M et al. “Anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol in patients with ulcerative colitis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study.” Archives of Medical Research, vol. 46, no. 4 (May 2015): 280-285
  18. Espinoza JL et al. “The repeated administration of resveratrol has measurable effects on circulating T-cell subsets in humans.” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Published online May 4, 2017.
  19. Alway SE et al. “Resveratrol enhances exercise-induced cellular and functional adaptations of skeletal muscle in older men and women.” The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, vol. 72, no. 12 (November 9, 2017): 1595-1606
  20. Witte AV et al. “Effects of resveratrol on memory performance, hippocampal functional connectivity, and glucose metabolism in healthy older adults.” The Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 34, no. 23 (June 4, 2014): 7862-7870
  21. Méndez-del Villar M et al. “Effect of resveratrol administration on metabolic syndrome, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion.” Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, vol. 12, no. 10 (December 2014): 497-501
  22. Anton SD et al. “Safety and metabolic outcomes of resveratrol supplementation in older adults: Results of a twelve-week, placebo-controlled pilot study.Experimental Gerontology, vol. 57 (September 2014): 181-187
  23. Faghihzadeh F et al. “The effects of resveratrol supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 114, no. 5 (September 2015): 796-803

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