A new study by Northwestern Medicine shows that consuming coffee and eating a lot of vegetables may provide some protection from “Covid-19.”
The researchers believe this is the first study to use population data to examine the role of specific dietary intake in preventing COVID-19.
“Human nutrition affects immunity,” said lead researcher Marilyn Cornelis, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The immune system plays a key role in an individual’s susceptibility to and response to infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
The study found that breastfeeding may also provide protection in addition to eating less processed meat.
“In addition to following current guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, we provide support for other relatively simple ways that individuals can reduce their risk through diet and nutrition,” Cornelis said.
The paper on nutrition and protection against COVID-19 was recently published in the journal Nutrients.
One or more cups of coffee per day was associated with a nearly 10% lower risk of developing Covid-19, compared to less than one cup per day. Consuming at least 0.67 daily servings of vegetables (cooked or raw, excluding potatoes) was associated with a lower risk of COVID-19 infection. Processed meat consumption with less than 0.43 servings per day was associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. While breastfeeding reduces the risk of infection by 10% compared to others.
While the study shows that diet appears to modestly reduce disease risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccines as the most effective way to prevent COVID-19, especially severe illness and death.
Cornelis noted that other than weight management, less attention has been focused on other modifiable risk factors that precede infection with the Corona virus.
Dr. Thanh Hoen Vu, the study’s first author and associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University, is leading the analyzes to determine whether protective diet behaviors are specific to COVID-19 or respiratory infections more broadly.
“Coffee is a major source of caffeine, but there are also dozens of other compounds that may underlie the protective associations we observed,” Cornelius said. “The association with processed meat, not red meat, suggests non-meat factors.”
Using data from the UK Biobank, the researchers examined associations between dietary behaviors measured in 2006-2010 and COVID-19 infection in March to December 2020, before vaccines were available.
They focused on:
1) Diet factors for which data were available and which have previously been implicated in immunity based on human and animal studies.
2) Subjective intake of coffee, tea, vegetables, fruits, fatty fish, processed meat, and red meat.
Early access to breast milk was also analysed.
Of the 37,988 participants tested for COVID-19 and included in the study, 17% came back positive.
Cornelis says that with everyone involved in the UK Biobank currently, she hopes to use this information to gain better insight into how diet and nutrition can provide protection against disease.
Source: Medical Express