New Study: Drinking This Daily Protects You Against Serious COVID Infection

Updated: Jan. 27, 2024

You might think of tea as the common defense against getting sick, but researchers just found a protective effect from this steamy sip, too—plus, they reveal the ideal intake amount for immunity.

Your morning caffeine fix sure gives your brain a lift, but new research says it might also perk up your immune system. Could your love of coffee protect you from COVID-19 infection or reduce the severity of its symptoms? Science is saying yes.

Recent studies had already suggested that the world’s favorite morning beverage, coffee, shows a protective effect against COVID—both in terms of preventing infection and mitigating the degree of sickness when infection occurs. However, these studies apparently couldn’t explain why coffee was helping: Was it thanks to the caffeine, or another coffee benefit that provided a protective effect? For a November 2023 study published in the journal Cell & Bioscience, a team of biomedical science researchers from top Chinese universities investigated the chemical properties of coffee to understand exactly what makes it inhibitory to the COVID virus.

Their theory was based on the idea that coffee is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, compounds which are known for their health benefits. From a few cellular-level analyses, the researchers concluded that “coffee can inhibit multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 infection.” The researchers found this occurs due to coffee “restraining the binding of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein” to human enzymes that play a role in fluid regulation throughout the body. In other words, coffee seems to block COVID from binding to key immunity cells. 

Notably, the caffeine wasn’t to credit. The researchers found that all types of coffee—brewed, instant, and even decaf—proved effective against the virus, regardless of added ingredients like cream and sugar. That’s great news for people who are sensitive to caffeine.

And promisingly, the protective effect extended to several COVID variants, including Alpha, Delta, Omicron, and wild-type variants. So while COVID-19 vaccinations play a crucial role, other lifestyle choices can help the immune system adapt against the constantly mutating nature of the virus. Diet, including beverage choices, might be a proactive way for individuals to defend against infection.

What’s the healthy amount of coffee to protect you against COVID? The researchers recommend one to two cups per day, with the beverage showing the most efficacy within six hours after consumption.