Chicken soup, a timeless remedy for colds and flu with ancient roots, is more than just a comforting placebo, according to a nutrition specialist.
The tradition of preparing chicken soup for the sick dates back centuries and its therapeutic benefits can be traced to as early as 60 AD with army surgeon Pedanius Dioscorides.
The appeal of chicken soup lies in its umami taste, often described as “meaty,” derived from the amino acid glutamate found in foods with this taste, including meat, poultry, cheese, mushrooms, miso, and soy sauce.
The umami taste plays a crucial role in stimulating appetite, particularly for individuals with upper respiratory illnesses who may experience a decreased appetite due to inflammation.
Studies indicate that the umami flavour in chicken soup can enhance appetite, and it may also improve nutrient digestion, making it easier for the body to absorb proteins.
This is especially important for individuals with acute illnesses, ensuring they receive the necessary nutrition for immune health and recovery.
Moreover, chicken soup has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the number of white blood cells that contribute to inflammation in the upper airway.
The soup inhibits the ability of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, to travel to inflamed tissue, thereby alleviating common cold and flu symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, coughing, and thickened mucus.
The key ingredients in homemade chicken soup, including chicken, vegetables, and noodles, provide essential nutrients that distinguish it from ultra-processed canned versions.
Chicken offers a complete source of protein to combat infection, vegetables supply vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and noodles provide easily digestible carbohydrates for energy and recovery.
Additionally, the warmth of chicken soup contributes to loosening thick mucus, and herbs and spices like pepper and garlic further aid in this process.
In conclusion, the latest scientific findings support the healing properties of chicken soup, emphasising the importance of its ingredients for maximising health benefits.
Whether prepared at home with wholesome ingredients or chosen carefully from store-bought options, chicken soup proves to be a valuable ally in promoting recovery from colds and flu.