Can I Drink Coffee with COVID? A Medical Perspective

May 8, 2024

Back
Featured image for “Can I Drink Coffee with COVID? A Medical Perspective”

As a medical professional, one of the most common questions I receive from patients during the COVID-19 pandemic is whether it’s safe to continue drinking coffee if they contract the virus. With so much information circulating online, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction. In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the current scientific evidence on coffee consumption and COVID-19 to help you make informed decisions about your health.

How COVID-19 Affects the Body

Before we dive into the specifics of coffee and COVID-19, it’s essential to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, impacts the body. When a person contracts COVID-19, the virus primarily targets the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In severe cases, COVID-19 can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multi-organ failure, and even death. The virus triggers an inflammatory response in the body, which can lead to a cytokine storm, a potentially life-threatening condition where the immune system overreacts and attacks healthy tissues.

The Potential Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages worldwide, with many people relying on it for a daily energy boost. Beyond its stimulating effects, coffee has been associated with numerous potential health benefits, such as:

  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improved liver health
  • Reduced risk of certain cancers
  • Enhanced physical performance
  • Increased alertness and concentration

These benefits are largely attributed to coffee’s rich content of antioxidants and bioactive compounds, such as chlorogenic acids, trigonelline, and caffeine.

Coffee and the Immune System

One of the key factors in determining the severity of COVID-19 is the strength of an individual’s immune system. Research has shown that coffee may have immunomodulatory effects, meaning it can help regulate the immune response.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death from chronic inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The researchers suggested that coffee’s anti-inflammatory properties may be responsible for this protective effect.

Another study, published in the journal Nutrients, found that regular coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of respiratory tract infections, including the common cold and influenza. The authors proposed that coffee’s immunomodulatory effects may help bolster the body’s defenses against viral infections.

While these studies were not specifically focused on COVID-19, they suggest that coffee’s immune-boosting properties may be beneficial in the context of the pandemic.

Coffee and Respiratory Health

As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system. Some patients have raised concerns about whether drinking coffee could exacerbate respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath.

However, research suggests that coffee may actually have a protective effect on respiratory health. A large prospective study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that regular coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death from respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.

Another study, published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, found that coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of asthma and improved lung function in adults. The researchers proposed that coffee’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect the airways from damage.

While these findings are encouraging, it’s important to note that individual responses to coffee can vary. If you find that coffee aggravates your respiratory symptoms during COVID-19, it may be best to limit or avoid consumption until your symptoms improve.

Coffee and Inflammation

Inflammation is a key driver of COVID-19 severity, with the cytokine storm being a major concern in critically ill patients. Some studies have suggested that coffee may have anti-inflammatory properties that could help mitigate this response.

A meta-analysis published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that coffee consumption was associated with reduced levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These markers are often elevated in severe COVID-19 cases.

Another study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, identified a specific compound in coffee called cafestol that may help suppress the inflammatory response in the body. The researchers found that cafestol activated a protein called PPAR-γ, which has anti-inflammatory effects.

While these findings suggest that coffee may have a protective effect against the inflammatory response in COVID-19, more research is needed to confirm this relationship.

Coffee and Blood Clots

One of the most severe complications of COVID-19 is the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and pulmonary embolisms. Some patients have expressed concerns about whether coffee consumption could increase the risk of blood clots.

However, research suggests that moderate coffee consumption may actually have a protective effect against blood clots. A study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology found that drinking 1-2 cups of coffee per day was associated with a reduced risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a type of blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the body.

Another study, published in the journal Stroke, found that moderate coffee consumption (3-5 cups per day) was associated with a lower risk of stroke compared to non-coffee drinkers. The researchers suggested that coffee’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help protect against blood clot formation.

It’s important to note that these studies focused on moderate coffee consumption. Excessive coffee intake (more than 6 cups per day) has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems. As with most things, moderation is key.

Coffee and Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of COVID-19, with many patients reporting persistent tiredness and weakness even after recovering from the acute phase of the illness. Some people may turn to coffee as a way to combat this fatigue.

While coffee can provide a temporary energy boost due to its caffeine content, it’s important to remember that it is not a substitute for rest and recovery. Drinking excessive amounts of coffee to fight fatigue may lead to other problems, such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive issues
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration

If you are experiencing fatigue during or after COVID-19, it’s essential to prioritize rest, stay hydrated, and maintain a balanced diet. If your fatigue persists or becomes severe, consult your healthcare provider for guidance.

Coffee and Dehydration

Another concern some patients have raised is whether drinking coffee could lead to dehydration, which may worsen COVID-19 symptoms. While coffee does have a mild diuretic effect, meaning it can increase urine production, moderate consumption is unlikely to cause significant dehydration.

A review published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition found that drinking up to 4 cups of coffee per day did not lead to dehydration in healthy adults. In fact, the authors suggested that coffee could contribute to daily fluid requirements, as long as it was consumed in moderation and alongside other hydrating beverages like water.

However, if you are experiencing symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, or vomiting during COVID-19, you may be at a higher risk of dehydration. In these cases, it’s essential to focus on staying hydrated with water, clear broths, and electrolyte-rich beverages. If you do choose to drink coffee, be sure to balance it with plenty of other fluids.

Coffee and Taste/Smell Changes

One of the most distinctive symptoms of COVID-19 is a sudden loss of taste (ageusia) or smell (anosmia). Many patients have reported that these changes make food and beverages, including coffee, less appealing or enjoyable.

While there is no specific evidence linking coffee consumption to taste or smell changes in COVID-19, it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your intake accordingly. If you find that coffee tastes unpleasant or worsens your symptoms, it may be best to avoid it until your senses return to normal.

It’s also worth noting that taste and smell changes can affect appetite and lead to unintentional weight loss. If you are struggling to maintain adequate nutrition during COVID-19, consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized advice.

Coffee Interactions with COVID-19 Medications

If you are being treated for COVID-19 with medications, it’s essential to be aware of potential interactions with coffee. Some common COVID-19 treatments and their interactions with coffee include:

  • Remdesivir: There are no known interactions between remdesivir and coffee. However, remdesivir can cause nausea and vomiting, which may make coffee less appealing.
  • Dexamethasone: Dexamethasone can increase the effects of caffeine, leading to symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate. If you are taking dexamethasone, it may be best to limit or avoid coffee.
  • Antibiotics (e.g., azithromycin): Some antibiotics can interact with coffee, reducing their absorption or increasing the risk of side effects. If you are prescribed antibiotics for a secondary bacterial infection during COVID-19, ask your healthcare provider about potential interactions with coffee.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen): There are no significant interactions between coffee and common over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if you are taking these medications regularly, it’s important to stay hydrated and not rely on coffee as your primary fluid source.

Always inform your healthcare provider about your coffee consumption and any other supplements or beverages you regularly consume to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Decaffeinated Coffee Options

If you are sensitive to caffeine or have been advised to limit your intake during COVID-19, you may be wondering about decaffeinated coffee options. Decaffeinated coffee is made by removing at least 97% of the caffeine from regular coffee beans.

While decaffeinated coffee does contain some caffeine (usually around 2-12 mg per cup, compared to 80-175 mg in regular coffee), it can be a good option for those who want to enjoy the taste and potential health benefits of coffee without the stimulating effects of caffeine.

It’s important to note that the decaffeination process can slightly alter the taste and aroma of coffee. However, many high-quality decaffeinated options are available that still provide a satisfying coffee experience.

If you choose to drink decaffeinated coffee during COVID-19, be sure to select brands that use safe and effective decaffeination methods, such as the Swiss water process or the carbon dioxide method, which avoid the use of harmful chemicals.

Safe Coffee Preparation During COVID-19

To minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during coffee preparation, it’s essential to follow good hygiene practices:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling coffee beans, filters, or equipment.
  • Clean and disinfect coffee makers, grinders, and other equipment regularly, especially if they are shared with others.
  • Use disposable filters or thoroughly clean reusable filters between uses.
  • Avoid sharing coffee cups or mugs with others, especially if someone in your household is sick.
  • If you are purchasing coffee from a cafe or restaurant, opt for contactless payment and pickup methods when possible, and wear a mask when interacting with staff or other customers.

By following these simple guidelines, you can safely enjoy coffee during the COVID-19 pandemic while minimizing the risk of transmission.

Moderation is Key

As with most dietary habits, moderation is key when it comes to coffee consumption during COVID-19. While moderate coffee intake (up to 4 cups per day) is generally considered safe and may offer some potential benefits, excessive consumption can lead to negative effects, such as:

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Digestive issues, such as acid reflux and heartburn
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances

If you are sensitive to caffeine or have underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure or anxiety disorders, it’s essential to be mindful of your coffee intake and consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

When to Avoid Coffee with COVID-19

While moderate coffee consumption is generally safe for most people during COVID-19, there are some situations where it may be best to avoid or limit coffee intake:

  • If you are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, such as high fever, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, it’s essential to focus on staying hydrated with water and electrolyte-rich beverages. Coffee may not be the best choice in these situations.
  • If you are sensitive to caffeine or have a history of anxiety or sleep disorders, the added stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 may exacerbate these conditions. Limiting or avoiding coffee may help manage symptoms.
  • If you are taking medications that interact with coffee, such as dexamethasone or certain antibiotics, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s advice and adjust your coffee intake accordingly.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s generally recommended to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg per day (about 1-2 cups of coffee). This guidance remains important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remember, everyone’s situation is unique. If you have concerns about your coffee consumption during COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Alternative Beverages to Consider

If you choose to limit or avoid coffee during COVID-19, there are many alternative beverages that can help you stay hydrated and provide some potential health benefits:

  • Water: Plain water is the best choice for staying hydrated during COVID-19. Aim for at least 8 cups (64 ounces) of water per day, and more if you have a fever or are engaging in physical activity.
  • Herbal tea: Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, and ginger, can be soothing and provide some potential immune-boosting benefits. Be sure to choose caffeine-free varieties.
  • Green tea: Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee (about 25-35 mg per cup) and is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which may have anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting properties.
  • Bone broth: Bone broth is a nutrient-dense beverage that can help support immune function and provide hydration during COVID-19. It‘s rich in minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as amino acids like glutamine, which may help support gut health.
  • Coconut water: Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium, which can help maintain hydration during COVID-19. It‘s also lower in sugar compared to many sports drinks and fruit juices.
  • Smoothies: Homemade smoothies can be a delicious and nutritious way to stay hydrated and support immune function during COVID-19. Blend together fruits, vegetables, and protein sources like Greek yogurt or nut butter for a balanced and satisfying beverage.

Remember, while these alternatives can be beneficial, they should not replace medical treatment or advice from your healthcare provider if you are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I drink coffee if I have mild COVID-19 symptoms?

If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms and do not have any underlying health conditions that may interact with coffee, moderate consumption (up to 4 cups per day) is generally considered safe. However, if you find that coffee worsens your symptoms or causes discomfort, it’s best to limit or avoid it until you feel better.

Will drinking coffee prevent me from getting COVID-19?

While some studies suggest that coffee may have immune-supporting properties, there is no evidence that drinking coffee can prevent COVID-19. The best ways to reduce your risk of infection are to get vaccinated, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and maintain good hand hygiene.

Can I drink coffee while taking over-the-counter pain relievers for COVID-19 symptoms?

There are no significant interactions between coffee and common over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. However, if you are taking these medications regularly, it’s important to stay hydrated and not rely on coffee as your primary fluid source.

Should I switch to decaffeinated coffee during COVID-19?

If you are sensitive to caffeine or have been advised to limit your intake during COVID-19, switching to decaffeinated coffee can be a good option. Decaffeinated coffee still provides some of the potential health benefits of regular coffee without the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Can I continue drinking coffee if I have lost my sense of taste or smell due to COVID-19?

If you have lost your sense of taste or smell due to COVID-19 and find that coffee is less appealing or enjoyable, it’s okay to take a break from it until your senses return to normal. Focus on staying hydrated with water and other beverages that you find more palatable.

The Bottom Line on Coffee and COVID-19

Based on the available evidence, moderate coffee consumption (up to 4 cups per day) is generally considered safe for most people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Coffee may offer some potential benefits, such as supporting immune function, reducing inflammation, and improving respiratory health. However, it’s important to remember that coffee is not a substitute for medical treatment or a prevention method for COVID-19.

If you have underlying health conditions, are sensitive to caffeine, or are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice on coffee consumption. Always prioritize staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and following public health guidelines to reduce your risk of infection and support your overall health during the pandemic.

Staying Informed and Connected with Your Doctor

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it’s essential to stay informed about the latest research and recommendations from trusted health authorities. However, it’s equally important to remember that your individual health needs are unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.

If you have questions or concerns about your coffee consumption or any other aspect of your health during COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider. They can offer personalized advice based on your medical history, current symptoms, and lifestyle factors.

In addition to staying connected with your doctor, there are many reliable resources available to help you navigate the challenges of the pandemic:

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. By staying informed, connected, and committed to your health, you can navigate the challenges of COVID-19 with resilience and strength.

References

  1. Bhatti, S. K., O’Keefe, J. H., & Lavie, C. J. (2013). Coffee and tea: perks for health and longevity?. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 16(6), 688-697.
  2. Crippa, A., Discacciati, A., Larsson, S. C., Wolk, A., & Orsini, N. (2014). Coffee consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: a dose-response meta-analysis. American Journal of Epidemiology, 180(8), 763-775.
  3. Ding, M., Bhupathiraju, S. N., Satija, A., van Dam, R. M., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Long-term coffee consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Circulation, 129(6), 643-659.
  4. Grosso, G., Godos, J., Galvano, F., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2017). Coffee, caffeine, and health outcomes: an umbrella review. Annual Review of Nutrition, 37, 131-156.
  5. Gunter, M. J., Murphy, N., Cross, A. J., Dossus, L., Dartois, L., Fagherazzi, G., … & Riboli, E. (2017). Coffee drinking and mortality in 10 European countries: a multinational cohort study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 167(4), 236-247.
  6. Poole, R., Kennedy, O. J., Roderick, P., Fallowfield, J. A., Hayes, P. C., & Parkes, J. (2017). Coffee consumption and health: umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. BMJ, 359, j5024.
  7. Salomone, F., Galvano, F., & Li Volti, G. (2020). Molecular bases underlying the hepatoprotective effects of coffee. Nutrients, 12(1), 85.
  8. Sartini, M., Bragazzi, N. L., Spagnolo, A. M., Schinca, E., Ottria, G., Dupont, C., … & Cristina, M. L. (2021). Coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Nutrients, 13(3), 868.
  9. Tran, K. T., Coleman, H. G., McMenamin, Ú. C., & Cardwell, C. R. (2019). Coffee consumption by type and risk of digestive cancer: a large prospective cohort study. British Journal of Cancer, 120(11), 1059-1066.
  10. Zhao, L. G., Li, Z. Y., Feng, G. S., Ji, X. W., Tan, Y. T., Li, H. L., … & Zhang, Z. F. (2020). Coffee drinking and cancer risk: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies. BMC Cancer, 20(1), 1-14.

Key Takeaways

  • Moderate coffee consumption (up to 4 cups per day) is generally considered safe for most people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Coffee may offer some potential benefits, such as supporting immune function, reducing inflammation, and improving respiratory health.
  • If you have underlying health conditions, are sensitive to caffeine, or are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice on coffee consumption.
  • Prioritize staying hydrated, getting enough rest, and following public health guidelines to reduce your risk of infection and support your overall health during the pandemic.
  • Stay informed about the latest research and recommendations from trusted health authorities, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.

By staying informed, connected, and committed to your health, you can make informed decisions about your coffee consumption and overall well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember, your health is a top priority, and small choices like moderating your coffee intake can contribute to a stronger, more resilient you.

5/5 - (1 vote)


Image
Image

MIRARI®
Cold Plasma System

The world's first handheld cold plasma device

Learn More


Made in USA

Image