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Interview with Gray Graham the Creator of the Nutritional Therapy Association

Primal Power Method Gary Collins - Nutrition Therapy Association (NTA)

A little about the Nutritional Therapy Association:

With diet and related heath concerns in the headlines throughout the US, The Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc.® (NTA) has been conducting classes in holistic nutrition since 2001. NTA has over 1500 graduates representing 48 states and 2 Canadian provinces.

NTA’s Nutritional Therapists address nutrition from a holistic perspective. As the “food pyramid” continues to crumble, NTA’s training offers a clear alternative to the highly-processed, grain-based, low fat, high sugar nightmare that is the official diet of modern America.

The Nutritional Therapy Association is founded on the beliefs of such nutritional pioneering greats as Weston A. Price and Dr. Francis A. Pottenger (refer to the Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, considered two of the greatest scientific minds ever to research nutrition, food supplies and their effects on modern society.

NTA’s philosophy is that the myriad of health problems plaguing modern society result from weaknesses in the body’s physiological foundations brought on by poor nutrition. As an educational organization, NTA is dedicated to helping healthcare professionals and others interested in holistic nutrition understand and reverse the tragic and unsuspected effects of the modern diet on their patients and clients. Throughout our seminars, students access a wide range of educational tools and techniques that help identify and correct nutritional imbalances.

The Interview:

Gary Collins:  Where did your interest in holistic health start?

Gray Graham:  Well, like a lot of people, I found it through a matter of necessity. I had a very successful and rewarding career in corporate America in sales and I worked my way up from the bottom and ended up being a National Sales Manager. I supervised a lot of people, did a lot of traveling and ate a lot of bad foods. I used to go by McDonalds, and I forget what the number is now, but it used to say, over 3 billion served.I’d ask myself; I wonder who ate the other billion because I must have eaten 2 billion Big Macs myself. I’m embarrassed to admit it now because it seems so stupid, but I even smoked for quite a few years, even though I had been an athlete in college and knew better. So by the time that career ended, when I was 35, I was pretty broken. My adrenals were completely trashed, and of course at that time I didn’t really recognize that my chronic back problems and some of the other emerging health problems were the result of poor adrenal function and blood sugar disregulation.

When I finished that career I just didn’t really have the juice in me to go get another corporate job, so for about five years I just messed around on boats and during that time I had a scuba dive charter business. One of my clients was a chiropractor. I mentioned to him that I was losing my grip, and I had a lot of pain in my hands. Although I didn’t know much about Chiropractic I actually started seeing him for that problem. At that time with carpal tunnel, the medical solution was to cut you from the middle of your palm, about six inches up your wrist and  for most people the outcome wasn’t very good.

So anyway, I went to see Chris, Dr. Miller, and he made my carpal tunnel about 90% better after the first visit. He adjusted my wrist and my elbows, and so with that kind of success, I also let him address my chronic low back problems that I had had since being an athlete in college. He was the one who introduced me to a more holistic perspective on health. Through that process we became good friends.

So anyway, now to the transition in my life. In 1991 during what was to be a two to five year sailing voyage we conceived or son Grayson. Because of this we ended our trip early. I knew I was going to have to get a real job, and it was my friend Dr. Miller who suggested I apply for a job with a friend of his who was the distributor for a major professional nutritional supplement line.

So I went and interviewed for the job, and I got a job as a nutritional consultant for Standard Process It was completely life altering. Dr. Robert Curry, who was my new boss and mentor, said, “Even though you don’t know anything about nutritional therapy, in six months you’ll know more than most doctors”.  To me that was somewhat incredulous because we assume that doctors know a lot about nutrition but, unfortunately, they generally don’t. Sure enough, after six months I knew more about nutrition than most doctors. Not all doctors of course. After 21 years, there’s certainly doctors who know more about nutrition than I do, but not many.

Dr. Curry introduced me to the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (PPNF) and part of my original training was to read two books that he thought were very important. One was Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, and the other one was  Pottenger’s Cats, the story of Frances Pottenger’s famous cat studies. Reading those two books altered my perspective on nutrition irrevocably. The other thing that  happened was a profound improvement in my health but even more importantly a profound change in the health of my then pregnant wife. I just jumped on board. It was a new passion, and it was a new vision and it wasn’t even a job anymore. I had found my calling.

Eventually, this led to my quest to educate all types of healthcare practitioners on nutritional therapy.

Gary Collins:  Wow!  It sounds like quite a life adventure there. I think we all have similar stories though. It always starts somewhere and usually starts with our own health and then into relatives or loved ones as well.

Gray Graham:  Yes, that’s very common. It’s very easy to accept the prevailing paradigm if it’s serving you. When it stops serving you one of two things happens: you just get deeper into the drug and surgery model, or you look for alternatives, and I think that’s actually another interesting  story.

When I started my career as a nutritional rep, some of my biggest accounts were medical doctors. I probably had over a thousand accounts and only a very few of them were medical doctors, but the few medical doctor accounts that I had were very big and so I thought, gosh, medicine basically controls all this. Everybody goes to medical doctors. So I set out to interview the medical doctors that were doing a lot of nutritional therapy with the idea that I could find out what they were doing and I could teach other medical doctors.

I asked each one of them, “What got you into nutritional therapy?”  Each one of them told a similar story. When they, or someone that they loved, had a very serious health challenge, (but not a patient) and medicine did not have the answer then and only then would they go outside of their paradigm. If they found an answer in natural healthcare, and if it worked they would bring that back into their practice. The third doctor that I interviewed had a very big practice and did a lot of natural medicine. At that point, I was becoming frustrated, and I asked “So how can I get other medical doctors to embrace this paradigm that you’ve embraced?” He looked at me and  said, “You can’t.” He said, “You have no chance of doing that. They won’t change.” I was kind of frustrated, so I asked “ You mean there’s no hope? They’ll never change?” And he said, “No, they’ll change, but they’ll change only when the public demands that they change.” He said, “You can’t change them, but when people will not put up with the traditional drug and surgery model, they will change. They’re not going to change until the public demands change.” I think over the last twenty years that has really started to happen. The public is starting to demand a holistic approach to health and more and more doctors of all types including more medical doctors are turning to nutritional therapy to help their patients.

Gary Collins:  So how did you hatch that into the concept of the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), certifying people to be Nutritional Therapy Practitioners and to go out there beyond the medical paradigm?

Gray Graham:  Early in my career as a Nutritional Consultant I co-developed a unique class in nutritional evaluation that helped Primal Power Method Gary Collins - Gray Graham Nutritional Therapy Associationdoctors to identify functional deficiencies using a series of simple physical indicators and a special feedback mechanism called Lingual Neuro-Testing (LNT).

The classes started out as casual affairs that I would present to small groups of doctors in their offices but eventually grew to large seminars that I presented all over the world. What eventually became known as the Foundations of Functional Nutrition Series (FFN) was taught by myself and others hundreds of times to thousands of health care practitioners.

What became obvious though was that in a busy health care practice the doctor often didn’t have time to do the functional evaluation and the dietary consult that they learned in the classes. As it turned out, it was the doctors who would bring a trusted staff person and delegate the nutritional work to them that had the greatest success.

It was that observation that led to the idea of creating a new profession, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) that could work alongside the doctors either in their practice or on a referral basis.

Basically, I took the curriculum that I had from my professional courses and I expanded it. We partnered with our local community college, South Puget Sound Community College, and the very first class sold out. The next year instead of a classroom they gave us a lecture hall that held twice as many students and we sold that class out as well. We knew at that time that we were on to something!

We expanded from that one venue to five throughout the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii almost over night. Now we’re training in cities all over America. We have classes in  Hartford Connecticut, Austin  Texas, Both Northern and Southern California and a total of five classes in the Pacific Northwest.

This year, for the first year, we started a new program, the Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC) program, That has students from all over the world!

So we’re just on the verge now of really becoming an international organization. We have hopes next year to do our first classes in Australia and hopefully in the not too distant future, we’ll be training in Canada and South Africa.

Gary Collins:  I know I refer a lot of people to NTA because I get a lot of questions all the time about holistic health and how to get into it. I noticed that the classes are filling up really quickly. I’m telling them to go sign up and they go, “Hey that class is already full.” What do you think is happening now, what is the trend that you think is causing this?

Gray Graham:  Well, it’s been  an amazing thing. For several years we built it up to where we were training 200 people a year and we thought that was a pretty big accomplishment, from zero to 200 in five years. All of sudden we went from 225 seats to 450, and we sold out every single class. We didn’t have one single space and most of our classes had waiting lists. Having taught so many classes for so long, I was perfectly comfortable having given up the actual job of teaching these classes to a really excellent cadre of instructors. With such explosive growth though I’m back in the classroom again.

I’m teaching two classes again and I really enjoy it.  There’s something about teaching. It’s a lot of work, but there’s a certain satisfaction in taking the students from bright eyed and a little bit scared to a competent practitioner in nine months.

So this year we went from 200 to 450 students and next year we will have the capacity for about 550. I don’t know, maybe they’ll push it to 600 students. It looks like, once again, that we’ll sell out. If anybody is thinking about signing up for a class, they shouldn’t wait until the week before because there’s a pretty good chance they won’t get in.

Gary Collins:  That’s what I’m telling people. I’m telling them to make sure to get the information as early as possible and if they’re serious, sign up. Don’t wait because that’s what I found, a couple of them waited and they didn’t make it.

Gary Collins:  So that’s an important lesson to learn and with that, where do you see the future of holistic nutrition going from here?

Gray Graham:  It’s an emerging field and maybe I’m caught in my own paradigm, but I believe that it’s what’s going to save us, because in America, we’re in a horrible situation with our health. Americans are extremely unhealthy people. We’re becoming less healthy all the time as a result, not only from the extremely poor diet that we have, but also as a result of the effects of epigenetics—that each generation eating bad food becomes less healthy than the generation before. We know now that we can actually change the genes we pass down based on a poor diet.

So anyway, I think that our program will continue to grow. I think that, really, we need to train probably thousands of new practitioners every year to meet the emerging demand. What I’m seeing is not just that there’s a lot of interested people becoming practitioners, but there’s a lot of people who are looking for nutritional therapy as a part of the answer to their own health problems. There’s still a group of people out there that think they can eat anything, do anything and take a drug and it’s going to fix them. Most people are getting that’s not the case that the answer to bad diet is not more drugs. In fact, I think a lot of people are getting that’s not only not the answer, but it’s actually a big part of the problem, and I think that we have the potential to turn this thing around. I also think that if we don’t turn around the basic paradigm in America—if we don’t embrace more natural ways of healing—I think that as a culture we’re done that our culture and our economy as we know it is on the verge of collapsing under the weight of our extraordinarily poor healthcare system and that we have a big part to play in changing that.

Gary Collins:  Yeah. It’s almost that it’s the only direction it can go, you know, because it can’t get much worse. If it keeps continuing…I mean, we’re almost up to $3 trillion a year that we spend on healthcare. That’s a ridiculous amount of money and that’s what I tell people too. I go, “If you don’t get healthy, not only are you bankrupting the country, but you’re going to bankrupt yourself, because you’re not going to be able to afford healthcare anymore, none of us are.”

And that’s kind of interesting in that sense of talking about the future of holistic medicine, or holistic philosophies and nutrition and where it’s going. Recently, Sally Fallon just put out a piece and kind of ripped on the Paleo, Primal and low carb people and you know, we’re all in the same boat as I look at it. We’re all trying to help people. What were your thoughts on that?

Gray Graham:  Well, I think really you’re right, we’re all allies. The Paleos, the Primals, the Weston A. Pricers…we’re all basically pretty close. We all have a common cause. I have tremendous respect for Sally Fallon and the work that she’s done, but there’s not one diet that is appropriate for everybody. There’s not one philosophy that’s appropriate for everybody. One of the basic premises at NTA is this idea of biochemical individuality and a diet that’s great for one person may not be so great for another. We might have one person for whom a Paleo diet is the complete and total answer, and it completely changes their life. They recover from diabetes, lose hundreds of pounds and they restore their vitality. That doesn’t mean that the Paleo diet is right for everybody.

What happens is people are in trouble with their health and maybe they try vegetarianism or veganism. It doesn’t work, so they try a macrobiotic diet and the macrobiotic diet doesn’t work. Then they try Paleo and Paleo works and they go, “My gosh, I have discovered the answer for everybody,” but it’s not the answer for everybody. So I think that’s one of the things that we have to teach, is that certain people can do certain types of diets. It really depends on our own constitution and also our ancestry.

So, for example, we know that if you’re born in Sweden, only 2% of Swedes are lactose intolerant. If you’re born an Australian Aborigine, the chances are 78% that you’ll be intolerant to lactose because it didn’t exist in your ancestral diet. The Swedes have integrated dairy into their diet over 12,000 years ago. I’m sure 98% of our genes are still the genes we had when we were in the Paleolithic time frame, but there can be a profound difference in that last 2%, so I think the statistic is, it’s in my book: 78% of Aboriginal people cannot tolerate lactose in dairy, and like 28% of the African peoples who are herds people—who have a traditional diet—cannot, so that means a significant majority of them can. But the Northern Europeans—particularly if they have good quality milk and it’s properly prepared—they have a pretty good propensity for both dairy and grain products if they’re properly prepared and if they haven’t abused them horribly as a result of over-consumption and poor preparation and introduction.

For so many people, a Paleo or Primal diet is a big answer for them. Sally, means well and theoretically, grains properly prepared should work for a lot of people, but they clearly don’t work for everybody.

Gary Collins:  Yeah, that’s why I fall on the Primal side. I’ve taken Primal and defined it as, for me and what I do, as a combination of Pottenger, Weston A. Price, low carb, Paleo, and Atkins, and I try and combine the best pieces of all of them together and turn it into something that I think is more practical. People then can take a piece of it for them, and I always talk about that in my book, about knowing what your ancestral background is. That’s very important. It’s important, but the problem too is some people are so far removed from it now that you can investigate what your diet was and it could still have negative consequences.

Gray Graham:  Right, because we’ve messed the food up so bad.

Gary Collins:  We’ve messed it up so bad, yeah, and with that being said, what are your thoughts on the Primal, Paleo and low carb movements? I mean what do you think of them?

Gray Graham:  Well, I’m a part of that movement. In the nutritional therapist class, we try and start with the concept that people need a balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein, but the most important thing is that there is a balance there and that they’re of high quality. So in terms of the carbs, even though we recommend up to 40% carbs, those carbohydrates should come from vegetables, low glycemic vegetables and low glycemic fruits, and to the greatest degree possible, we should avoid the starchy processed carbohydrates. You know, the refined breads and most of the stuff that people are eating, all the pizza doughs and breads and pastas. Even though we eat a lot of potatoes in this country  they’re very poorly prepared. Modern fast food and restaurant prepared French fries are a death food. So a lot of times it’s not just the food but it’s how it’s prepared. You can take a potato in moderation and it can be somewhat healthy. But when you’ve take a potato and you’ve fried it in hydrogenated canola oil, it doesn’t matter if it’s organic, it’s still toxic and maybe that should really be illegal to feed that to a child. Eating French fries is probably on par with smoking cigarettes for a 10-year-old in terms of the long-term consequences to their health, but people don’t really get it.

Gary Collins:   Yeah, the carcinogenic effect in both is very similar when you boil it down to what’s going to happen in your body. That’s interesting because with my athletes…what I do, because they have higher carb requirements, every macronutrient for that matter. But to keep football players at a certain weight, I have to go more carb heavy than I would for anyone else, but I tell them, “You know what? You can fry your sweet potato or your yams in coconut oil or butter and that is fine, just stay away from the highly processed oils.”

Gray Graham:  There you go.

Gary Collins:  Even potatoes. I go, “Potatoes are fine for you but just don’t be going out and getting that GMO raised potato and then putting it in the GMO canola oil, because now I got to fight all the inflammation that this is going to cause and all the issues you’re going to have. Your joints are going to hurt; you’re going to get headaches and nausea from it if you eat enough of it.” So yeah, it’s very, very interesting.

Gray Graham:  That’s really important.

Gary Collins:  Same food, just prepared differently for the most part.

Gray Graham:  There’s a big difference between a baked organic chicken, served with vegetables, when compared to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and tater tots.

Gary Collins:  Does NTA have any projects coming up you would like to share?

Gray Graham:  Well, one thing I’m very proud of is our annual conferences. They’ve been a huge success. We initially put them together primarily for our graduates—but we welcome the public, people that are interested in nutritional therapy or people that are just interested in health or other healthcare practitioners—so we’ve had an amazing array of fabulous speakers at every conference. Everybody from  Jerry Brunetti to Sally Fallon to Jeffrey Smith, talking on GMOs to Natasha Campbell-McBride, talking about the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet and they’re always fascinating. I definitely invite people who are interested in health or changing their lives to check out our conference. It’s always the third week of March. And of course as I mentioned we are planning on expanding internationally.  We certainly invite people to explore both our Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and our Nutritional Therapy Consultant programs. From those classes we will be selecting the next generation of instructors, group leaders and assistant instructors that we need to keep our organization moving forward.

Gary Collins:  Excellent. Those are some pretty big plans and goals. I look forward to it.

Gray Graham:  Thanks Gary for being a part of this movement and inviting so many others to join also!

Gary Collins:  That’s right. Get on the real health train!

Gray Graham:  There you go.

Gary Collins:  Thanks for taking the time to share what NTA is all about to my followers, as I know they have a lot of questions in that area.

Gray Graham: Thank you.


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great interview with the great Gray Graham. I am an NTP and found this post after reading your “know what you are getting supplement post (how to not get scammed..)” which I tell everyone I know about. Anyway, NTA changed my whole life. I love that program so much. I actually decided to take my education further and am getting a masters in nutrition and functional medicine now. Thanks for all you do.

    1. Hey Stephanie,

      Glad you liked the interview. It is exciting to hear you found your life purpose and become an NTP. We need more of them these days so keep up the good work, and good luck with your further educational goals.


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