Patrick Holford is a Nutritional Therapist who has been the driving force behind the worlds changing view of health and nutrition. He is widely regarded as Britain’s best-selling author and leading spokesman on nutrition and mental health issues, with 36 books in print in 29 languages.
What Drives Me | Back in 1980 a had a flash of a radical idea – could cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other such diseases be man-made, a consequence of how we are living and what we are eating? At the time it was a radical idea but I got my teeth into it, started the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in 1984, and 30 years and 30 books (actually 38) later I feel satisfied that we have really proven that these diseases, and newer ones such as Alzheimer’s, are largely unnecessary if you understand how the body is designed. So what drives me? Common sense– not that it is very common these days – and having a story to tell that most people are not aware of. What excites me is communicating a new idea that changes a person’s perception, and consequently their action. The science clearly shows, for example, that half of all Alzheimer’s is related to modifiable diet and lifestyle risk factors. Only 1% is caused by genes. That means we could halve Alzheimer’s incidence. That’s what I am shooting for right now.
The Difference Between good And Great | Someone asked me the other day if I was playing to win, or playing not to lose. Good question! I remember throwing the I-ching and getting those immortal words ‘perserverance furthers’. People who succeed don’t give up. They are tenacious. But you have to have the right vision. Effectiveness is doing the right thing. Efficiency is doing the thing right, which means completely. You have to be both efficient and effective and have perseverance to be good at something. That’s what I believe.
My Key Talent | I think we are all born with unique talents. Mine, I would say, is that I see the substance, the bottom line of things. I don’t get too distracted. The reason I write books that make the complex simple for people is that I can hold a lot of facts and see the wood from the trees. It takes a lot of contemplating, to really see an idea through to the end, and from the beginning. Also, I guess having the courage of your convictions is key. You have to shoot the arrow straight, so once the target is clear, pull the string.
My Weakness | Is being a bit like a bull in a china shop. I’ve had a lot of plates thrown my way but, perhaps that is just what happens when you stick your head above the parapet. My working motto is ‘no good deed goes unpunished.’
A Key To Success | It is really important to hear different points of view and build key relationships. Keep an open mind but also reach out. I often contact people cold because I like what they are saying. I always learn something new.
How I Manage My Days | To do lists kill you with constant pressure. I have a list of things to do for every day, but only for that day. If I don’t do it I allocate it to another day. I start with a big result, perhaps doing the thing I most dread first. I start when I wake up – usually 6am – earlier if I’m in book writing mode, later if not. I prefer to work hard, eg six days a week, long hours, for a few weeks, then take a week off. I often take time off with no phone or computer. As the director of health of New York once told me “don’t worry, all your problems will still be there for you when you come back.’ This incessant need people have to be in contact I find pathological. I like wilderness time. Ideas percolate. Wittgenstein, the philosopher, said ‘thinking is a given that is given to one who is worthy’ or something like that! I understand that to mean that real ideas come as a gift if you saturate yourself in an area. I absorb myself in a subject, then go to sleep. That’s why I write in the morning. My subconscious mind processes at another level during sleep.
Dealing With Doubt And Fear| I had a lot of nasty attacks in my life – times when the establishment have had me on a hit list. I’ve been followed, photographed, vilified and burgled. So, I’ve had a fair amount of time to think about the dark side. I haven’t so much doubted my own ideas, but rather my ability to make a difference, to pierce through this veil of illusion around health that is deeply seeded by the pharmaceutical monopoly.
Finding A Creative Outlet | What I’ve learnt is to realy feel what I am feeling. Depression is often anger without enthusiasm. That kind of anger needs to be expressed. There has to be a way through fear. I write how I feel, sometimes in poetry. Here’s one from last week to express my rage at how the real causes of dementia are being side-lined to create stories about non-existent ‘miracle’ drugs to make money, rather than stop the suffering:
Who gives a damn? What really changes?
The media espouse fashionable opinions to the hypnotised masses,
homogenised by minions, afraid of their bosses.
The outspoken, despising the power of advertising,
Are banished and vanish down social crevasses
To suppress the uprising
The greedy manipulations of so-called science
Purporting life-saving treatment for man-made diseases
Are a clever disguise to make share prices rise
All this obscene money is not really funny
When you see the harm done, the lives lost,
Written off as a cost, to fed big pharma man.
But who gives a damn?
It makes me feel better! I guess the lesson is about truth. You have to keep putting the truth out there even if it is unpopular. If I am really true to myself then I am in alignment with my personal mission, and that makes things happen.
Performing At My Peak | Years ago I met a lady who had done really well in business. I said ‘what’s your secret?’ she said ‘take your vitamins every day and have a massage once a week’. I don’t quite achieve a massage once a week, but I certainly do take my vitamins every day. I don’t drink much alcohol, if any, when I’m working hard. I eat well. I sleep well. When I’m awake I do whatever I want to. I switch off watching movies, but also like the content. I watch unusual films – I hate the standard Hollywood blockbusters. I used to meditate. I’m on a break from that right now, but off next week for a 5-day retreat. I complete tasks so they are completely done, then move onto the next one. I don’t leave things unfinished. I have an in-tray, an out tray, and a ‘today’ tray. I have no other piles of paper. My study is clear. My desktop, both real and electronic, is clear. I don’t take on new projects until I’ve finished existing ones.
On Building Wealth | I don’t care about being rich or accumulating wealth. What for? How much is enough? Research shows that above about $70,000 a year,or equivalent, people don’t really get happier. Of course, getting enough to meet your needs really does help. It is good to shoot for that. I’ve seen many people undervalue themselves and therefore not charge enough. Margin is key, keeping costs low, companies efficient, then being clear what you are selling and selling it. I wrote my first book in 1981 at the age of 23, printed 10,000 copies for £3,000, put them in the back of my car, sold them for £10 each and came home 6 months later with 7,000 sold.
I can’t bring myself to buy a £100,000 car when that money could make a big difference to someone on the bread line. I have a nice car (Prius). I like speed so go go-karting racing now and again. My motto is ‘money comes to me as an expression of my contribution to humanity’. I think it is more important to find out what really drives you. Money itself is a means to something, it shouldn’t be the driver. Wealth is something else. I expect people who do end up wealthy just really enjoy creating or making things happen. They are like wizards. I meet plenty of unhappy and sick wealthy people. Money certainly doesn’t buy you health. To get wealthy I’d say get clear about what turns you on and what your innate skills are. Hone them and do what you enjoy.
The People Who Inspire Me | I love the heretics and heroes that had the courage of their convictions and don’t back down. I just finished reading a book on Martin Luther-King. Nelson Mandela, of course. Do you know my Optimum Nutrition Bible was the first book to knock Road to Freedom off No1 best seller in South Africa? But not for long! Respect.
My hero is Linus Pauling and Dr Abram Hoffer. You might not have heard of these guys. Linus Pauling had two Nobel Prizes and 48 PhDs, then focused on optimum nutritions as the new paradigm of medicine. He was attacked and ridiculed but he stood his ground. He pierced the veil of big pharma control and they hated him for that.
The amazing psychiatrist Dr Abram Hoffer treated over 5,000 schizophrenics before he died. If a patient didn’t have a place to call home he’d bring them home, feed them and help them get back on their feet. His first question, in consultation, was ‘what are you going to do when you get better?’ Still, today, most people don’t realize that schizophrenia is a curable condition.
When someone great dies you feel it. I was touched by Lou Reeds’ death. He was a mystic. He said some very simple things very well. Sweet Jane and Walk on the Wild Side. Great songs, great heart, bold, outside of the box. I love that! I was once asked to admit, in front of an audience that Linus Pauling was a crank. I agreed, and said ‘do you know what the definition of a crank is? A small, efficient tool for creating revolutions.’
The Legacy I Want To Leave | Is an army of nutritional therapists. I think there are several thousands now in the world. A library of books so no-one who wants to know cannot find out how to reverse and prevent disease. But, most of all, I’d like to keep finding ways to wake up and embolden humanity, and myself, to come out of this ‘hell’ of soulless materialism, reconnect with nature, with humanity, and create a humane and more loving world that isn’t driven primarily by power, coercion and corruption. It is time for a big change in the way our societies are working and I’d like to be part of that change in the arena of health.