Coffee gives the energy that many people need to start the day. Now a new groundbreaking study on the link between food and the coronavirus shows that this “breakfast power plant” can also offer some protection against COVID-19, Newsmax reports.
Eating vegetables and breastfeeding also reduces the risk of COVID-19, according to a new study from Northwestern University in Chicago. In contrast, processed meats such as sausages can increase susceptibility to coronavirus. Other foods studied, such as fruit, tea, and red meat, have no effect.
“We know that COVID is a contagious disease similar to pneumonia or other types of respiratory infections. We know that immunity plays an important role in our ability to fight some of these infectious diseases,” said study co-author Marilyn Cornelis. “I was interested in how diet can play an important role in COVID-19, as we know it affects immunity,” added Cornelis, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University School of Medicine.
Other studies have focused on specific health issues related to COVID-19 infection, including the impact of diseases such as diabetes. Cornelis said less attention has been paid to variable risk factors other than weight.
For the study, the researchers used UK Biobank data to examine the link between eating behavior from 2006 to 2010 and COVID-19 infections from March to November 2020 in the same people. Researchers have specifically studied foods that have been shown to affect the immune system in previous studies in humans and animals. The study included nearly 38,000 participants who were tested for COVID-19. About 17% were positive for the virus.
The group found that the diet can provide a moderate level of protection. For example, consuming one or more cups of coffee per day is associated with a 10% reduction in the risk of COVID-19 compared to consuming less than one cup per day. Eating at least two-thirds of a serving of cooked or raw vegetables a day (excluding potatoes) is also associated with a lower risk. Like coffee, breastfeeding a baby is associated with a 10% lower risk.
However, eating less than half a serving of processed meat a day, such as hot dogs and delicacies, is associated with a higher risk.
Why these dietary factors are important is not yet known and it is important to note that the study cannot prove a direct causal link. The reason why coffee protects and tea doesn’t, may be in the higher amount of caffeine in coffee, Cornelis suggests.
“But there may be other coffee ingredients that are unique and different from tea. For example, tea is often rich in flavonoids. While coffee has more polyphenols, especially chlorogenic acid, which is actually a relatively unique ingredient in coffee,” Cornelis he said.
In such a comparison, consumption of red meat does not appear to increase the risk of COVID-19 infection, and processed meat does not.
Eating lots of vegetables is good in terms of risk, although it is not known whether certain vegetables with certain dietary profiles are more affected.
“Some of these findings are just indicators of good eating habits. I think that just speaks to the importance of good nutrition, not only for COVID-19, but also for general health,” Cornelis said.
They are not a substitute for vaccines
Experts believe that coffee and vegetables certainly do not replace the COVID-19 vaccine and other recommended preventive measures.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says anyone over the age of 12 should be vaccinated. Vaccines for younger children are not yet available.
Dr Karen Studder, program director of the prevention medicine program at Loma Linda University in California, says the results of the study are similar to the teachings of lifestyle medicine and the idea that food is a cure.
“The benefits of whole foods of plant origin, especially fruits and vegetables and grains, will protect you from many diseases. This is exciting because it also seems to apply to infectious diseases like COVID-19,” Studer said.
Other studies have also found benefits of coffee, such as increased lifespan, Studer said.
“Small lifestyle changes can have a major impact on health,” she added. “This can include giving up tobacco, alcohol or sugary drinks. If eating is a challenge, you can focus on other lifestyle changes, such as improving sleep or managing stress,” she said.
The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.