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Cooking Food This Way Could Increase Your Coronavirus Risk

Put the spatula down.

Leaning into our inner chefs may have done wonders for our mental health during quarantine, but what it's done to our eating habits, and subsequently our health, is another story. As hypothesized in an article published by The New York Times, changes in lifestyle habits due to the quarantine may have in equal measure protected us and predisposed us to contracting coronavirus. Some negative impacts of the quarantine are obvious: our mental health may be suffering from increased isolation, we're likely experiencing higher levels of stress, we're moving less, and we may be prone to more binge eating. But there's one new comforting pastime many of us have picked up that may be especially harmful to our health, and that's baking.

From sourdough starters to focaccias, and all the other dessert recipes that have been trending on food sites and social media platforms, baking has become somewhat of a national obsession. But an increase in home baking projects may be setting us and our loved ones on a bad path of unhealthy eating habits. By consuming more baked goods, we are inevitably increasing our consumption of sugar and processed wheat—the well-known culprits of weight gain, slower metabolism, and increased inflammation in the body.

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Here's why your new hobby may be harming you

According to research, when we eat too much sugar, the excess glucose building up in our system can increase our levels of cytokines, small proteins which can subsequently promote inflammation in our cells. Glucose can also suppress our immune response. Similarly, vegetable oils used in baking can further contribute to inflammation in our bodies, as can refined carbohydrates like all-purpose flour. So that beautiful loaf of bread you aced or those chocolate chip cookies you finally decided to try should be consumed conservatively, even if you don't want to give up your weekly baking fix. Having tempting home-baked foods available 24/7 can be especially dangerous if you tend to be an emotional eater, replacing sporadic sweet fixes with epic binges that don't really satisfy you.

Flip the script on your kitchen prowess

We'd never tell you to stop baking forever! But we do suggest making sure you're preparing nutritious, well-rounded meals as well as desserts. A nutrient-rich diet is paramount in protecting yourself during the coronavirus pandemic, as it helps build up your immune systems which is the first line of defense against any illness. Healthy pantry staples and a variety of fruits and vegetables can help turn your kitchen into a bastion of wellness.

If you're on a mission to boost your immune system and decrease your chances of contracting the virus (or any virus for that matter), start with healthier lunch and dinner recipes, energizing breakfasts, and incorporate as many anti-viral and anti-inflammatory foods as you can into your diet. Even cocktails can be turned into a wellness elixir (as long as you're drinking moderately).

And don't forget to set aside some daily time for physical activity and blasting belly fat, which in particular has been linked to higher levels of inflammation.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Mura Dominko
Mura is ETNT's Executive Editor, leading the coverage of America's favorite restaurant chains, grocery stores, and viral food moments. Read more about Mura
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