Interview With Health Activist Dr. Gary Null:
By Dr. Jay Kantor, Ph.D.
Jay Kantor (JK): Gary, why don't you give people a brief introduction to your work.
Gary Null (GN): My background is in human nutrition and public health science, and I've spend my entire career as an educator and as an activist trying to offer people alternative solutions to major problems in the health field. I'm the author of many books including two New York Times best-sellers this year The Gary Null Anti-Aging Program and Get Healthy Now. I have a third book coming out which is a 1,700 page book called For Women Only -- how women can empower themselves to overcome conditions specific and unique to women.
I do about 20 hours of broadcasting a week on non-commercial stations throughout the country. In New York, I'm on Monday through Friday on listener-sponsored WBAI, 99.5 FM, from noon to 1PM. On Sunday evening, I'm on WEVD, 1050 AM, from 8 to 10PM.
JK: At the conference in New Jersey on October 17 you'll be speaking about "Health Over 50". Tell us something about this topic.
GN: I'm going to guide people on a journey of understanding how we age, what people can do to slow down, and, where they choose to, how they can reverse their aging process.
JK: How do you see the process of aging?
GN: The body should be able to live at least a 120 years in good health. The fact that we're only living to about 60 in poor health, 70 to 75 in very bad health, when the average person dies, shows that we're not even living half of our ideal life expectancy. Most people's health actually begins to decline after the age of 35 with things they take as normal, such as overweight, arthritis, diabetes, constipation, depression, headaches, insomnia, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, chronic infections, and chronic pains. They think, alright, well I'm 35 or 40, 45 or 50, 60 or 75 -- this is normal. It is not. None of it's normal. There is no disease normal to the aging process, and that includes lack of cognition and memory. Our lifestyle, the environment in which we live, our lack of awareness of the importance of nutrients, taking an ultra-conservative position on health and a very liberal position on disease has virtually guaranteed that we will be living shorter, more painful lives than what we should.
JK: How do you suggest people deal with this?
GN: The majority of older people, when asked in a recent survey, showed that they really didn't believe that they could live a longer life, and they weren't going to make any major changes if it meant any discomfort.
Discomfort is a relative concept. If you say to someone give up your coffee, and they're going to be uncomfortable with that, then they're not going to give up their coffee. If a person says that they're used to eating red meat three times a day, and you're suggesting they shouldn't, the person is going to end up not giving up the red meat. So then we become a society looking for the quick fix. People watch infomercials and buy things they should know are overpromised, overpraised, and oversold.
When people really commit themselves to mastering some part of their life, whether it is their career, or a craft, or a hobby, they succeed at it, success meaning they're accomplished in it, feel confident and comfortable, and they're proud of the results of it. They've absolutely not given any of that mastery and energy to their health. If you asked them, "Could you run your office the way you run your body?", the answer would be, "No." And where they'd look for solutions in their work if they had a problem, they will immediately throw their hands up and feel overwhelmed by the idea that they should participate in their own healing process.
So they've made themselves victims in two ways. They are victims of the medical community, which has given them information that does not help them with major, chronic conditions, although it certainly does deserve praise for emergency and acute care. They've also made themselves victims in that they've virtually stayed away from all prevention.
And there's the irony -- we live a society that has written more books and articles, has more television and radio programs on health than any other society in the world, and yet we do less about it. The information is all around us and yet we do not self-actualize.
JK: How do you understand that? Why is that the case?
GN: First, I look at the actual statistics: who's getting sick, how often, to what extent, who's buying meat, who's not buying meat, how many are vegetarians, how many are shopping in health food stores, etc. When you look at the number of people engaged in an unhealthy lifestyle, it's staggering. When you look at the people engaged in really healthy lifestyles, it's minimal. It's less than 5 percent of the American population. So when 95 percent of people are aware that what they're doing is wrong, and only 5 percent are doing something to change it, it tells you that there's a deep seeded fear of self-actualization. So a lot of my message is what can we do to create new tools to help us in our healing and wellness process, because the tools that got you sick cannot be the tools to get you well.
JK: What seems to move people to healthier behaviors?
GN: You can't start with a diet. 96 million Americans go on and off diets every year, and it doesn't work. We're getting fatter and thicker.
Our gross national product this year will be 1.3 trillion dollars. Next year it will be about 1.5. Within three years we'll be at 2 trillion dollars. You have to start on a more fundamental level -- the level of our awareness of who we are as individuals. And most people, quite frankly, and this will be surprising to people, they have worked too hard to achieve success of mastering someone else's life but not their own. That's why we have so many people sublimating their inner anger and emptiness and loneliness and depression for having mastered someone else's life. One day, when they're really quiet, when there's no radio or television or negative news or "to do" lists or people drawing on their energy, there's a loneliness, an aching in their heart energy that just overwhelms the person -- that they've worked this hard and been this responsible, they've given this much away to so many people, so why don't they feel better about themselves?
So that's the level that I start on. You can have a house where the foundation is rotted to the core but spend all your time putting new drapes up in the attic. And that's what people do.
JK: How can you help people to become aware of the sacrifice they have made?
GN: I start by asking people, "What doesn't work in your life?" And then ask them, "Why do you believe it's not working?" And then I take them step by step through a process of deconstructing the myth of their essential being, and reconstructing what they want to put in its place. The person who has courage will not be afraid to ask him or herself the question. The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
JK: After a person has an understanding that something fundamental in their life isn't working, what do you do next?
GN: I merely act as a person that unlocks the gate to denial and avoidance, procrastination and pain, so they can walk in and, in effect, throw out all of the garbage in their past, all the toxic emotions, and reconstruct what they want in its place. They have to be the architect. I don't want them being like me. I want them to be the best they can be for themselves.
JK: Once a person has the proper motivation, how do they reconstruct their health?
GN: There are seven steps to health, and I'm going to outline those seven steps at the lecture. Right now, I will simply say that the first step is cleansing, and the last step is rejuvenation.
JK: What future directions do you see society needing to pursue to regain our health?
GN: We need to use technology to regain a sense of completeness that our grandparents had. We need to take a step back. We need a more casual lifestyle, more uncluttered, more simple. Name me someone who doesn't want a simpler life. It's only with a simpler life that we can find that bliss we've been working so hard to have. We've just gone about it wrong.
JK: What is the most important thing a person could change in their life to make it better?
GN: I would try to get people to get away from the standard of living, and replace it with the quality of life. Most people work for a standard of living, thinking that through the standard of living they'll have the acknowledgement of others and their own self-esteem -- look what I was able to achieve, look where I am now. I've payed my dues, and I've worked hard, and I deserve what I have.
One day they wake up and realize that they've become a prisoner to the things that they thought were so important, and they do not have a quality of life, the merely have a standard of living.
JK: What makes up what you call, "the quality of life?"
GN: Being able to wake up each day and realize that there's a meaning and purpose to that day that's more important than a career or a relationship, and that you've not made your work more important than your life, and that you're going to be able to feel happy about whatever you do that day. That you're going to slow your pace down, and you're going to take your time today to smell the roses, not wait until you're retired or get successful and rich enough so that you have the right to. People just don't give themselves credit for just being alive.
JK: What else would you like to say to our readers at this time?
GN: People should ask themselves, "Are they enough to be fulfilled within themselves?" Are they feeling incomplete, and therefore looking for a career, success, goals, or another person through which they will feel their completeness? If that's the case, they will never feel complete.