Are your grain-threshing skills getting a little rusty? No worries, my friends! In Episode 2 of Season 2 of the Healthy Matters Podcast we’ll hone our healthy gastronomic choices when we learn about highly processed foods. We are joined once again by Dr. Kate Shafto, triple board-certified physician in internal medicine, pediatrics, and integrative medicine.

There are four basic levels of how food is processed, beginning with the most minimal of processing, (think of simply picking an apple and eating it) to the most processed of foods, (cereal, for example – a bunch of ingredients from a variety of processed sources that has been infused with stuff – perhaps vitamins, minerals and preservatives, mixed, fried or molded and baked and ready-to-eat on store shelves).

“Processing food is something that humans have done for a long time,” said Dr. Shafto. “What’s lacking from those highly processed foods a lot of times are the very nutrients that we need from the food that we eat – and fiber. Those are my top two that are lacking – fiber and micronutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.”

Dr. Shafto is a big fan of fiber and explains why we all should be, too. In fact, our entire gastrointestinal tract was made to digest a variety of unprocessed foods, but unfortunately, during processing many nutrients and fiber are removed.

“Fiber is an unsung hero in our health. It is so important and the human body has been very well acquainted with fiber for as long as humans have walked the earth. It only comes from plant foods – you can’t find it in animal foods.”

What is the big deal about fiber – and what exactly happens when you eat it? She explains an amazing way fiber gives our guts more time for other important processes to take place.

“The fibers actually form kind of a film along the inner walls of our intestines so that the nutrients don’t get absorbed right away, so the microbes can do their thing and they can metabolize the different vitamins. hey can process different vitamins and minerals and other nutrients in ways that only our microbiota can do.”

She explained how fiber also slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which is very important because humans don’t tolerate quick infusions of sugar very well. Good to know!

So grab a stalk of celery and sink your teeth into tidbits like these and more in Episode 2 of Season 2 of the Healthy Matters Podcast. If you haven’t already, also check out Season 1, Episode 20 of the podcast: Eating through the Ages, where Dr. Kate Shafto talks about how our food supply has changed over the past 100 years and the effects these have had on our diets and our health.