Hard to believe, but my father looks as young today – at 60 – as he did at 40. And though he may argue that he’s lost a bit more hair than he’d like, his face, his spirit, and his health seem to have been frozen in time.

While I’d like to think that I got his “good genes,” we all know genetics is only a small part of the equation. He passed on something even more valuable: an understanding of natural health.

I remember asking, when I was about eight years old, “Dad, why don’t we ever have white bread in the house?” Always a man of few words, he replied, “The whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead.”

When I asked “why,” he explained: “White bread has been stripped of the good stuff. It’s just bad for you.”

As I ate my whole-wheat peanut butter sandwich and apple and drank my carton of whole milk, I watched my friends chow down on marshmallow fluff sandwiches on soft white bread accompanied by cheesy-flavored chips and sodas. And I watched them “grow” much faster than I did – horizontally, not vertically.

My father is no scientist. He can probably tell you a little bit about vitamin C and vitamin E. He loves blueberries (and knows they’re full of antioxidants). And he never overeats.

When I would come home ravenously hungry after skating or biking or dancing ballet for hours and head for the refrigerator, he would say, “Slow down. Your stomach needs time to catch up. If you’re still hungry in 20 minutes, you can eat more then.” I doubt he had any idea that what he was telling me was an ancient Japanese principle called Hara Hachi Bu – meaning “Eat until you’re 80 percent full. Then stop.”

My dad is proof that you don’t need to be a personal trainer or a doctor… nor do you need to have a nutritionist at your beck and call. Simply adhere to a few easy-to-follow guidelines when it comes to what you eat and how you exercise, and you can live a long, full life feeling (and looking!) younger than your years.

My father taught me that health is the ultimate wealth. I hope you will take his lessons to heart and make your own life better… starting today.

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Kelley Herring

Kelley Herring is the Founder & CEO of Healing Gourmet – a multimedia company that educates on how foods promote health and protect against disease. As a young adult, Kelley battled a debilitating health condition that went misdiagnosed by multiple doctors for more than a year. Finding no help from “modern medicine”, she turned to her own knowledge of biochemistry and her passion for health research. She soon learned that her symptoms were related to nutrition and within weeks, she charted a course back to health with nothing more than simple lifestyle changes and the power of the plate. The lessons she learned spawned the creation of Healing Gourmet. Kelley is a firm believer in vigorous exercise, moderate sun exposure and delicious, healthy, home-cooked meals. She is also the creator of Healing Gourmet’s Personalized Nutrition Software and Editor-in-Chief of the Healing Gourmet book series published by McGraw-Hill including Eat to Fight Cancer, Eat to Beat Diabetes, Eat to Lower Cholesterol and Eat to Boost Fertility.