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The Atmasvasth Guide to Living Long, Healthy

Bhavin Jankharia
8 min read
The Atmasvasth Guide to Living Long, Healthy

The premise of Atmasvasth is that we can control our health, lengthen our healthspan and lifespan, and be atmasvasth, on our own, with just a little help, if at all, from doctors and the healthcare system. The very first article that I published last December 2020 explains this in detail. The article on atmasvasth takes this concept forward as does the one on healthspan. The site is structured like a loose book and the Index or Table of Contents and/or the Archives can help you navigate the site.

You can listen to the audio/podcast hosted on Soundcloud by clicking the Play button below within the browser itself.

It’s now been over a year since I started Matka Medicine adding the concept of atmasvasth halfway through, as a way to live long, healthy.

While I still have a lot of ground to cover, it is time to take stock of what it entails to have a long healthspan and a healthy lifespan, essentially ageing healthfully.

If this concise guide seems overwhelming…that is what living long, healthy entails. Most of us grow up believing that our health is not ours to manage, but should be left to experts like doctors and the healthcare system, which is fine when you are sick and ill, but of no help when you want to be free from disease.

We know more about our cars than we do about our own bodies and health. That needs to change.

1. Move

2. Eat smart, eat less - sensible eating

3. Manage cardiovascular risk, including hypertension and diabetes

Measure your own risk using calculators at least once a year. You can use the QRISK3 or the LE8 score. A coronary calcium score (CAC) may help after the age of 45, if you have intermediate (not too low or too high) risk.

4. Sleep well

5. Vitamins, minerals, supplements, stimulants - be cautious

  • Vitamin D3 - you don't need testing or supplementation if otherwise healthy, unless you have a major illness that causes vitamin D deficiency. You should actively say no to such testing and supplementation, especially as part of annual health check-ups.
  • Vitamin B12 - supplementation may not be needed just because you are vegetarian or Jain
  • Most vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements are useless, if you are otherwise in good health and eating sensibly - they can in fact cause financial and bodily harm - self-iatrogenesis.
  • A couple of cups of tea or coffee or both are worth the effort.

6. Take vaccines

  • Protect from Covid-19, flu, zoster, DTP, pneumococcal and varicella.
  • Make sure that the HPV vaccine is given to all under 14 girls you know in your family to prevent the occurrence of cervical cancer in adulthood.
  • In the future, we will likely have vaccines for tuberculosis, dengue and malaria. They should be taken as and when available.

7. Improve balance, do not fall and do not fracture if you fall

  • Physical activity as in point 1.
  • Balancing exercises with yoga or tai-chi, as part of the daily/weekly physical activity routine.
  • Detecting and managing poor vision, reduced hearing and polypharmacy reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
  • Walking aids may not be helpful and could even increase the risk of falls.
  • Falls-proof the house.

8. Recognize, prevent and reverse frailty

9. Screen for cancers and other diseases

10. Manage your senses (dental, vision and hearing), incidental, asymptomatic findings in the body and self-medication

11. Prevent cognitive decline and manage mental health

12. Reduce, control or eliminate addictions and stimulants

13. Manage environmental exposures and stressors

  • Air - air purifiers at home and work may help with reducing the short term and possibly the long term effect of air pollution. On high AQI days, staying indoors and avoiding high traffic density areas if outside may help. Running / walking outdoors though, is acceptable in high AQI settings, but within limits.
  • Noise - use earphones when traveling but not when walking or driving. Don’t make noise, for e.g. don’t honk when you are driving. Move to less noisy environs if you can, e.g. away from main roads.
  • Temperature - reduce exposure to extremes of heat and cold and protect yourself as best as possible in such environments.
  • Digital - reduce dramatically the use of gadgets, and time spent on social media, unless that is your profession. Most of what we see on Twitter or Facebook or WhatsApp is just noise.
  • Road accidents - avoid being in road accidents and follow safe practices as a driver, or when driven and as a pedestrian.

14. Manage the logistics of your health like you would manage any other major long-term project

  • Make sure you have enough money to last till the age of 90 years, inclusive of catastrophic spending at least once in that timespan. Good financial planning and management are a must.
  • Get good health insurance up to the maximum amount you can afford for yourself and the family.
  • Identify a health coach who can guide you through points 1 to 12. The health coach does not have to be a doctor.
  • Get your Health ID from NDHM.
  • Identify a good family physician you can reach out to when sick, to guide you through the process of meeting other specialists, navigating hospitals, making sense of different reports, etc. Avoid using Google search, online aggregators and social medial platforms to choose doctors.
  • If you are lucky to know a good geriatric doctor, please see them once a year and definitely once in two years.
  • Get a health check-up every year based on points 1 to 12, but also manage as much as you can on your own. Remember, in India, you don’t really need prescriptions for blood tests.
  • Measure your own temperature when healthy, to know your normal.
  • Avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary. As far as possible, opt for homecare.

15. Managing the Remaining 1500 Weeks of Life

This is a dynamic guide, which keeps changing as our understanding of healthful ageing improves.

In case you know anyone who would benefit from reading this, especially above the age of 45-50 years, please do share. The site and all posts are free but subscription with an email ID is needed for most of the posts.
Atmasvasth13-Point Guide


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