He began his career as an artist. After World War II he emigrated to Canada, where he lived near Cobourg, Ontario, and was first instructor of the Cobourg Art Club. He then moved to the USA, settling in Arizona. Examples of his paintings are still displayed at the Gallery of Northumberland.
He promoted a diet that contained very little salt, no refined sugar, no coffee, very little meat, and no refined carbohydrates. To alleviate the symptoms and causes of arthritis, cancer, asthma, obesity, diabetes, and abnormal heart rhythms, he recommended juice fasting up to 40 days on juices made from raw fruits and vegetables.
Mainstream medicine, during his time, regarded him as a controversial figure who advocated many views that were unproven by science. Some of his views have become more widely accepted in recent years, such as the efficacy of anti-oxidants against free-radical action, while other views have proven unfounded. Examples of these views include:
Paavo Airola died at age 64 of a stroke, which was the result of complications from injuries sustained during his emigration from Finland to Canada after World War II.