Study Reveals Unexpected Connection Between Coffee And COVID-19

You have probably heard the phrase "Food is medicine," and perhaps you abide by this motto, or maybe you ignore it, but whatever your stance on food is, the truth remains — what you eat matters. 

It seems that some Americans have ditched health food during the pandemic. While choosing your favorite baked goods and ice creams can be comforting during a time of turmoil, eating an unbalanced diet can also have serious consequences. Dr. Mark Hyman along with nutrition professor Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, tackle this dilemma in the Boston Globe, reporting that many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 also have diet-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Diets high in sugar and processed foods can cause inflammation, which already stresses the immune system before viruses even become a factor. 

However, movements such as Food Is Medicine highlight the ways food can contribute to recovery and help boost immune health. There is also emerging research that helps point us in the right direction, and one study has discovered a surprising link between a favorite beverage and COVID-19.

How food can help in the fight against COVID-19

A study out of Northwestern University of 37,988 participants has found an unexpected link between diet and COVID-19. The research suggests that drinking coffee may be associated with added protection against the virus. The data, published in the Nutrients journal, further shines a light on the connections between the food we eat and how it affects our health.

Drinking one or more cups of coffee per day was found to be linked to a 10% lower risk of COVID-19, as opposed to having less than one cup a day. Java is a major source of caffeine and polyphenols, which both have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, researchers concluded. Antioxidants, found in many superfoods, including fruits and vegetables, help protect the cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and may help you live longer (via Healthline). By decreasing inflammation, we can help the immune system function more optimally. 

Along with coffee, vegetable consumption was also found to lower the risks associated with COVID-19, while processed meats increased the risks. "A person's nutrition impacts immunity," states Marilyn Cornelis, one of the studies authors and professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (via Northwestern Now). Cornelis further notes that "the immune system plays a key role in an individual's susceptibility and response to infectious diseases, including COVID-19." 

Maybe food isn't medicine per se, but it certainly plays a part in our overall health.