Reprint from New Zealand Herald, New Zealand's largest circulation newspaper.
By Sarah Lynch
"I've never had a coke, never had a beer or vodka, and these," says American health crusader, Dr. Patricia Bragg, thrusting her fingers towards me, "are virgin nails, all 10 of them. I have never worn nail polish. I don't need a girdle and I don't need a bra."
I've come to visit this eccentric, bright 5' nutritionist to the stars during her New Zealand lecture circuit to see what she has to say that has millions of Americans following her advice. She's the author of 22 books, one which promotes three glasses daily of 1 to 2 teaspoons equally of raw, organic apple cider vinegar and raw honey in a glass of distilled water to keep old age at bay. (Over 5 million copies sold.) "I specialize in longevity," she tells me, and practicing what she preaches certainly seems to have worked for her; although it's hard to tell exactly how well because her age is a secret. She demonstrates how limber she is and shows me how she used to dance with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Arthur Murray; all of whom she advised on how to stay healthy and fit. She says that good posture equals instant youthfulness! I realize that no matter what age, this tiny, colorful powerhouse has more energy than 100,000 slobs put together.
"I love being a Health Crusader sharing the miracles of healthy living," she says. She credits her father, Paul C. Bragg with starting the health-food movement in America after making a pact with God at 16 to do just that if he survived the tuberculosis that was killing him. She continues his work, traveling the world lecturing on the benefits of healthy eating, selling her Bragg Healthy Lifestyle books and promoting her Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and her Liquid Aminos (Oprah swears by them).
Her simple you-are-what-you-eat-drink-breathe-think-and-do philosophy has earned her fans in high places. "Tom Selleck tells me I keep him 39," she reveals. "And Clint Eastwood sometimes feels like he's 18." She's even handed out nutritional advice to Madonna for her daughter Lourdes. "Madonna's a vegetarian and wants everything the best for her children." And Dr. Scholl, the world's most famous foot doctor? She kept him going till almost 100. "He said I have the most beautiful feet. No corns. No bunions. No problems whatsoever." And I have to say, the woman does have beautiful feet like a 16-year-old. And famous hotel founder, Conrad Hilton? She retrieved him at 80 from the hospital and kept him going almost another 20 years!
Back to this business of bras, though, which is worrying me. "I have never worn a bra and I am going to show you very truthfully," she says lifting up her shirt to reveal a pert bosom covered by what looks like a swimming costume. "Look at this," she says. "I don't need any silicone implants and I don't believe in them. Everything stands up by itself. Now what sort of bra have you got on?" Boy, she sure can move quickly for such a little person! She's now checking my bra and advising me on what kind of underwear to wear. "Oh, no, that's underwire. That'll be cutting off your circulation! Read the book on cancer and bra studies: Dressed to Kill.You will want to burn your bra and get a little chemise like I wear."
Before we get any further down the underwear trail, it's lunchtime and her assistant has made us the delicious all organically grown Bragg Healthy Garden Salad, with a side of brown rice and lentils. We sit down to eat, but not before we hold hands and my hostess offers up a generous thanks for our many blessings in which even the janitor at the Herald gets a plug (she says that saying grace is good for the digestion) and we eat. And for health food, I must admit it's delicious.