Lifestyles

Cup O’ Coffee

The Beloved Morning Elixir and Latest COVID-19 Symptom Indicator 

By: Kalindi Mishra

coffee in mug - Kalindi Mishra, issue 12 article for the banner

Your daily cup of joe is robust in aroma, flavor, and health benefits. Caffeine certainly has its “perks” ! Credit: http://www.hobynm.org/

The quintessential morning drink not only banishes fatigue but is also abundant in substances that prevent potential health conditions, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. These therapeutic properties may puzzle consumers, especially given the strong association between coffee and caffeine. 

However, coffee contains more than just caffeine! According to Diana Vizthum, M.S., R.D., a research nutritionist at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, “…..But coffee also contains antioxidants and other substances that may reduce internal inflammation and protect against disease.”

Additionally, coffee promotes longevity. Studies have found that regular coffee consumption – particularly in a female population- leads to a decrease in the number of deaths caused by coronary heart disease. Due to stroke being the fourth biggest cause of adult female deaths, a cup of coffee a day leads to decreased stroke risk.

Drinking up to 2 cups of black coffee a day reduces the chances of onset of heart failure ( a condition resulting in a weak heart struggling to circulate blood throughout the body). Regular coffee consumption is also associated with a lowered risk of acquiring Parkinson’s disease later in life. Likewise, a cycle of enhanced motor control in movements is also noticeable as a direct consequence. 

Furthermore, DNA is strengthened with consistent intake. Research proclaims the dark roast blend to be the inhibitor of DNA strand breakage. If DNA strands are not repaired in a timely fashion by cells, eventually cancer or tumors can surface. As per the John Hopkins Health Library, female coffee drinkers – regardless of the blend they drink- have a decreased 26 percent likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. 

In contrast, women with a lower consumption pattern, possess a 1-in-23 probability of developing colon cancer. Approximately two-thirds of the American population with Alzheimer’s disease are women. 

For preventative purposes, 2 cups of coffee a day is linked with a considerable amount of defense against the condition. Specifically, women over the age of 65, who consumed 2-3 cups of coffee each day, displayed a reduced rate of dementia onset. 

Hence, it can be speculated that other neurodegenerative diseases, notably Alzheimer’s disease, are less likely to be acquired with frequent intake. Adopting a balance is crucial for long-term well-being. 

As with any caffeinated substance, an excess of coffee can lead to a higher heart rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety, and a definite lack of sleep. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that most women can safely consume 3-5 cups of coffee each day ( with a maximum caffeine content of 400 milligrams; thus a single cup contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine). 

Lately, coffee is being utilized as a “barometer” for an at-home sniff test, given its robust aroma and mass availability in households. Anosmia, the loss of smell, is indicated to be a prevalent symptom in COVID-19 patients in 50 – 80 percent of positive cases, according to the CDC. The population size of symptomatic carriers is continuously growing, and so is coffee. 

Physicians are encouraging people to mask up and smell coffee at home to check for anosmia. Tufts University School of Medicine Professor, James Schwab, recommends the following: 

“One of the things that can be done pretty easily, pretty objectively by someone at home would be to take some ground coffee and see how far you can hold it and still smell it. Or do the same with rubbing alcohol or your shampoo. If your nose is not congested and you have trouble recognizing those or other scents that are familiar to you, you might want to call your doctor and get tested.” 

Alternatively, coffee can be tasted instead of smell, as mentioned by Richard Doty, Director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. 

“If you discover that coffee has no taste or chocolate seems to no longer have any taste other than bitterness or sweetness, then it’s likely you may be experiencing smell loss,” he informed Penn Medicine. “When you chew food, molecules go through the rim of the nasal cavity to reach the olfactory receptors at the top of the nose. For that reason, things like coffee and chocolate do not have any ‘ taste’ – it’s a smell.”  

Ultimately, smelling coffee should not be used instead of an official medical test. It is also worth noting that though the loss of smell is a COVID-19 specific symptom, it is not observed in every person infected with the  SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

In other words, being able to smell coffee in the morning does not equate to someone being free of COVID-19; rather, the outcome is ambiguous. You either are free of COVID-19, or it could mean that you are infected, but did not lose your sense of smell.

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