Here we are in the midst of cold and flu season doing our best to stay healthy and avoid feeling under the weather, but despite doing all the things we have learned to do to stay well those pesky bugs sneak their way in anyway. For decades chicken soup has been known to take the edge off when said pesky bugs attack, but what is it about chicken soup that makes us feel better? We know that we feel better after having a bowl of chicken soup, but what exactly gives this type of soup its “special powers?”
There are various recipes for chicken soup, but most contain certain essential ingredients such as onions and carrots that create an impactful combination. Based on research done by Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD, a researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for your nasal cells, giving your nose the relief it needs. Particularly, the onions in the soup contain protein, calcium, and especially sulfur, which decreases swelling and aids in reducing nasal congestion. Another significant ingredient in chicken soup is carrots. Carrots enable our bodies to produce vitamin A, which strengthens our white blood cells and in turn allows us to better fight off infection. Bonus: carrots also assist with retinal function to produce better vision!
Hot soups in general help keep nasal passages moist, thin out mucus, prevent dehydation, and sooth a sore throat, so what is it about the chicken? Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine that is released when the soup is made. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process. Chicken also plays its role as a great source of protein for your muscles. This is particularly helpful when your body feels weakened and drained during illness. And the more ingredients in your soup, the better, according to Rennard and his research team who have found that chicken soup with a variety of veggies can help ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, including congestion, stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat.
So if you have some time in between classes today consider treating your body to a warm, healthy serving of chicken soup at the Great Hall, The Loop, or Au Bon Pain!