by Kimberly Allen, RN
I don’t know about you, but when any of the kids in my family, as well as friends, started sowing signs of a cold mom would always fix some chicken soup and tell us it would make us better. Personally, I thought it was the best tasting medicine that my mom ever gave me so I always ate it. Then wouldn’t you know it I would start feeling better. However, for some reason I never gave the credit to the soup. Instead, I always figured it was because I had stayed in bed and took Tylenol and cough syrup. Then later, when I was on my own and got a bad cold, I had forgotten mom’s medicine and simply rested and took over the counter medications to relieve the symptoms and the cold lasted a whole miserable week.
Chicken soup has been used by many cultures for hundreds of years to treat “what ails you.” In fact, it is recorded that a Jewish physician would tell his patients to eat chicken soup when ever they had symptoms of a cold all the way back in the 12th century. So people some times refer to chicken soup as Jewish penicillin. Because of the long history of chicken soup scientists started researching it to see if they could verify it’s benefits. What they found is that chicken soup does in fact have properties that decrease the effects of upper respiratory infections that can range from improving and maintaining hydration as well as nutrition to anti inflammatory activities. In one study researchers found that chicken soup limits the ability of neutrophils to migrate to the respiratory tract, which in turn decreases mucous production as well as inflammation in your sinuses and nasal passages. chicken soup also increases the function of the tiny hair like projections known as cilia that line many areas of the respiratory tract and prevent germs from entering your body.
Then you add the vegetables that are in most chicken soups along with the herbs and spices like garlic and onions the vitamins and minerals along with beta carotene and antioxidants you have a powerful soup. In addition to improving cold symptoms chicken soup can also help build muscle tissue as well as other tissues like skin and hair. Another study showed chicken soup can also help reduce abdominal fat because it is so high in protein. It can also help you to lose weight more quickly than traditional diets. Also because carrots are a traditional ingredient in chicken soup it is also high in vitamin A is also known as retinol which is crucial in maintaining your eye health especially your retinas. Retinol is also a crucial in giving your eyes the ability to see at night or in a dark environment.
Many experts say that the benefits of canned soup as opposed to homemade soup is far less. However, Dr S Rennard from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha is a pulmonary expert and did several studies on chicken soup also tested 13 different brands of canned soup and found five including Campbell’s Healthy Request chicken noodle, Campbell’s Home Cookin’ chicken vegetable as well as Progresso chicken noodle and Lipton cup-o-soup chicken noodle along with Knorr’s chicken noodle actually work better than homemade. After his study he commented that he wasn’t pleased that grandma’s soup didn’t come in first as far as health benefits but as far as he was concerned grandma’s tastes better. So whether it’s grandma’s or out of a can chicken soup can definitely “fix what ails you”.