Does chicken soup really help when you’re sick? A nutritionist explains the health benefits

Preparing a bowl of chicken soup for a loved one when they are sick has been common practice around the world for centuries. Today there are generations from virtually every culture swear by the benefits Chicken soup. In the United States, the dish is typically prepared with noodles, but other cultures also prepare the calming remedy their own path.

Chicken soup as a therapy can be traced back to 60 AD Pedanius Dioscorides, an army surgeon who served under the Roman Emperor Nero and whose five-volume medical encyclopedia was consulted by early healers for more than a millennium. But the origins of chicken soup go back thousands of years. to ancient China.

So, with Cold and flu season is in full swingIt’s worth asking: Is there any scientific evidence to support the idea that it helps? Or does chicken soup just serve as a sedative placebo, providing us with a psychological benefit when we become ill, without any actual therapeutic benefit?

As a qualified nutritionist and professor of dietetics and nutritionI’m well aware of the appeal of chicken soup: the warmth of the broth and the rich, savory flavors of chicken, vegetables and noodles. What gives the soup its distinctive taste is “umami” – the fifth category of taste sensations alongside sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It is often described as have a “meaty” taste.

Improved appetite, better digestion

This all makes sense because amino acids are the building blocks of proteins Amino acid glutamate is found in umami-flavored foods. However, not all umami foods are made from meat or poultry; Cheese, mushrooms, miso and soy sauce are also available.

Studies show that taste is crucial to health healing properties of chicken soup. When I see patients with upper respiratory illnesses, I notice that many of them suddenly eat less or nothing at all. Because acute illnesses trigger an inflammatory reaction may decrease your appetite. If you don’t feel like eating, you’re unlikely to get the nutrients you need, which is hardly an optimal recipe for immune health and recovery from illness.

However, there is evidence that the umami flavor in chicken soup may help increase appetite. Participants in one study said they felt hungrier after her first taste of an umami-flavored soup added by researchers.

Other studies say umami can do this too improve nutrient digestion. Once our brain senses umami through the taste receptors on our tongue, our body prepares our digestive tract to absorb protein more easily.

That can reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, which is what many people experience when the weather is bad. Although most people don’t associate upper respiratory infections with gastrointestinal symptoms, research on children has found that the flu virus has been increasing Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea symptoms.

May relieve inflammation and nasal congestion

inflammation is part of the body natural reaction to injury or illness; Inflammation occurs when white blood cells migrate to the inflamed tissue to promote healing. When this inflammatory process occurs in the upper respiratory tract, it is leads to cold and flu symptomsB. a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, coughing and thickened mucus.

Conversely, lower white blood cell activity in the nasal passages can reduce inflammation. And interestingly, research shows that chicken soup can actually reduce the number of cases White blood cells travel to inflamed tissue. This is done by directly inhibiting the ability of Neutrophilsa type of white blood cell that travels to inflamed tissue.

Main ingredients

To truly understand the calming and healing effects of chicken soup, it is important to consider the soup’s ingredients. Not all chicken soups are packed with nutritious healing properties. For example, highly processed canned versions of chicken soup, both with and without noodles, lack many of the antioxidants found in homemade versions. Most canned chicken soups contain almost no hearty vegetables.

The Core nutrients in homemade versions of the soup, these varieties differ from canned versions. Chicken provides the body with a complete source of protein to fight infections. Vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When prepared American-style, pasta provides an easily digestible source of carbohydrates that your body uses for energy and recovery.

Even the warmth of chicken soup can help. Drinking the liquid and inhaling the vapors increases the temperature of the nasal and respiratory tract, resulting in an increase in temperature loosens the thick mucus which is often associated with respiratory diseases. Studies show that chicken soup is more effective compared to hot water alone more effective at dissolving mucus.

The herbs and spices sometimes used in chicken soup, such as pepper and garlic, also loosens the mucus. The broth, which contains water and electrolytes, helps rehydrate.

To maximize the health benefits of chicken soup, I recommend a homemade version that can be prepared with carrots, celery, fresh garlic, herbs and spices, among other ingredients. However, if you need a more convenient option, look at the ingredient and nutritional information and choose soups with a variety of vegetables over a highly processed, nutrient-poor option.

In short, the latest scientific evidence suggests that chicken soup — while it’s not an absolute cure for colds and flu — actually helps heal them. Looks like grandma was right again.

Colby TeemanAssistant Professor of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Dayton

This article was republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. read this original article.

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