Does Chicken Noodle Soup Help When You’Re Sick

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Few foods are as comforting as eating soup when youre recovering from a cold. Soup has been a commonly-prescribed remedy for respiratory illness since as early as the 12th century. And warm drinks, like tea, were used for healing in ancient and modern cultures alike.

Warm liquids may actually affect the body’s ability to heal? It turns out that some drinks and soups can help reduce symptoms like congestion and even strengthen the immune system to fend off an illness. We all have rituals we follow when we catch the flu or a cold.

However, despite the growing popularity of these edible treatments, science is still unable to definitively determine how exactly our favorite foods and beverages help us feel better. Nonetheless, a few studies indicate that our bodies may benefit from our preferred remedies for illnesses, so it doesn’t hurt to try them.

It’s not just a myth. Slurping soup or sipping tea may have actual health benefits that help us heal.

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Homemade vs. Canned Soup

It’s not often that scientific studies include a recipe for chicken soup. But a report published in Chest nearly two decades ago has a step-by-step guide on how to make “Grandma’s soup,” as part of an experiment to determine if homemade and canned soups could have a healing impact on humans at a cellular level.

In order to determine whether giving soup to white blood cells in a lab would prevent neutrophil migration, or slow the cells’ movement, researchers at the University of Nebraska The soup did, in fact, slow down the cells, indicating to researchers that a similar effect in people might help lessen inflammatory symptoms associated with colds and flu, such as sore throats.

They even did a comparative analysis of a number of different canned soup brands, and almost all of them (apart from Ramen with chicken flavor) could slow down the cells to some extent. Therefore, the researchers came to the conclusion that soup’s anti-inflammatory properties are probably the result of a combination of ingredients working together.

That being said, store-bought soup does typically contain preservatives and high levels of sodium, and the longer ingredients sit, the more nutritional value they will lose. For those reasons, homemade chicken noodle soup is best, says Brad Bolling, an assistant professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Chicken and the vegetables in the soup have beneficial properties, depending on how you prepare them,” he says. The key to proper preparation depends on the vegetable. Many vegetables can lose their nutrients when boiled for too long. When adding onions to chicken noodle soup, for example, add them toward the end to maintain as many nutrients as possible. For vegetables like carrots, however, nutrients become easier to absorb when they are cooked. You want your cold-fighting soup to have as many nutrients as possible.

In addition, chicken, when added to soup, releases an amino acid called cysteine. Cysteine thins out mucus in the nose and lungs and can help the body heal. This works in combination with soups other benefits as well, such as helping hydrate the body.

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