Why did your grandma make chicken soup? Well, she may not have. She may have bought it in a can, but I bet she served you some when you felt under the weather. It’s what grandmas do. Even moms do it. And the good news is, chicken soup really does help you recover from a cold.
Of course, these days grandma may make chicken soup when the grandkids come for a visit because she knows she’ll be needing some. Kids are collectors of viruses that they’re happy to share.
I think DJ recently fed me a poison peach. He had a bite on his fork. He held it out. I leaned in close to say, “Nummy nummy num” and pretend to eat it. With perfect timing as I pursed my lips, he shoved the bite in my mouth. Stupid kid germs! Now I have a really bad cold. I need chicken soup!
So what makes chicken soup good for you when you have a cold?
First, it contains the protein building block carnosine. Carnosine is produced naturally by the body and is important for proper function of the heart, brain, liver, and kidneys. Giving your body an extra boost of this dipeptide molecule may help reduce some stress on the body while it’s fighting a virus. Both homemade soup and store-bought soup contain carnosine.
Some research indicates that chicken soup may slow the gathering of white cells in the lungs in response to a virus. This may help reduce the coughing, sneezing, and stuffy nose symptoms that make a cold so miserable.
Homemade chicken soup can be nutrient rich from the chicken and vegetables you choose to include. Carrots add beta-carotene. Celery adds vitamin C. Onions add antioxidants. Button mushrooms add B vitamins, riboflavin, and niacin. Chicken adds protein. These nutrients support your immune system and give your cells fuel to rebuild.
Chicken soup is often fairly salty. The salt helps carry bacteria away from the mouth, throat, and tonsils much like a saltwater gargle.
Get plenty of fluids is the most common advice given to anyone recovering from a cold. If you have a fever, fluids are especially important to prevent dehydration. They also help flush the body. Consuming chicken soup automatically adds fluids to your daily intake.
The warmth of chicken soup soothes a sore throat. The steam helps cleanse the sinuses. The added touch of grandma’s soothing tones when she serves you warms your soul. Or so they say.
Chicken soup may have been a comforting, loving tradition long before we could scientifically prove it had healing properties. That didn’t make it any less effective. Somehow, we know that comforting, loving traditions have mysterious healing properties.