FYI Health Tip
Chicken soup does have healing powers. Next time you're sick eat some soup.
Remember when you had a bad cold as a kid and your mom made you chicken soup? It always made you feel better, right? Though many have chalked it up to an old wives’ tale, it turns out that there may be some science behind the soup remedy. A study published in the journal Chest looked at the effect of chicken soup on the respiratory systems of healthy volunteers. Researchers exposed their white blood cells to chicken soup and measured the response. (White blood cell response causes the respiratory symptoms of the common cold.) The finished soup significantly reduced white blood cell activity as did most of the components when tested by themselves, including the boiled chicken itself.
The soup used was a homemade version, dubbed “Grandma’s recipe,” which included a whole chicken, chicken wings, carrots, celery, onion, parsnips, sweet potato, parsley, salt and pepper. This study however, was performed in a lab and not by assessing actual symptoms in real patients. It’s possible the response of white blood cells actually in the body could be quite different.
Interestingly, store-bought soup seems to have the same effect. In the study, 14 different commercially available soups were tested and some of them were even more potent than the homemade version.
Even putting the study results aside, when breaking down chicken soup into its various ingredients, it’s easy to see why it may be a potent weapon against a runny nose:
- Heat: The steam from a bowl of soup (or a cup of hot tea for that matter) can assist in opening up clogged nostrils.
- Protein: Chicken is a great source of protein which we especially need as appetites naturally wane when ill. Low protein intake can decrease immune system function, and a soup is an easy way to get some calories and protein. If you don’t like the actual meat, some of the protein is extracted into the broth during the cooking process too, so just sipping the liquid is still helpful.
- Vegetables: Most chicken soup recipes include carrots, celery and onions at the very least. If you’re making your own chicken soup, throw in any hearty vegetables that you’ve got in your kitchen or freezer. Broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, beans and peas are all healthy soup additions. Also, the heartier greens, like Swiss chard, kale or collards work well in soups as well. The more vegetables in any soup, the better. Vegetables contain lots of vitamins and minerals that mean more antioxidants to fight off that cold. Frozen varieties are just fine, too. They are frozen at their peak freshness, meaning nutrient content is preserved.
- Water: Maintaining adequate hydration is also important when you’re not feeling well. Fluids also help to thin out mucus and decrease congestion so drinking your usual 2 liters/day is essential.
Remember that most canned and powdered soups are very high in sodium, so be sure to stick with the low- or reduced-sodium varieties.
You may also like:
The only thing I can think of that is largely different between homemade and store bought soups would be higher sodium content in the store bought variety. Perhaps elevated blood pressure due to increased sodium intake is somehow related to recovery from the symptoms of the common cold? Just a thought.
Dear author, the resarch article you are basing your information on is over 12 years old. Furthermore, it was only one article published among many regarding this topic, of which the overall consensus has been that the research does not point to a strong enough effect one way or another to actually RECOMMEND chicken soup to people for colds.
Your article is not only short sighted but also irresponsible. Before you wanna start handing out medical advice, do your readers a favor and either get your MD or do a little better investigational reporting or whatever you call this. Thanks.