Chicken soup good for more than the soul

McDonald County Press - - SALUTE TO POULTRY -

Cold sea­son never seems to take a year off. Ex­perts es­ti­mate that colds are so wide­spread that very few hu­mans es­cape in­fec­tion.

While there’s no cure for the com­mon cold, cold reme­dies have been around for cen­turies. Chicken soup re­mains one of the more pop­u­lar cold reme­dies. Grand­moth­ers have long es­poused the virtues of chicken soup with re­gard to treat­ing colds, but now re­search is back­ing up those claims.

Re­searchers have long ex­am­ined the po­ten­tial health ben­e­fits of chicken soup in an at­tempt to un­der­stand why it seems to be such an ef­fec­tive tonic at treat­ing colds. A 1998 re­port found that broth may help im­prove the func­tion of the tiny hairs in noses called cilia. The cilia help pre­vent con­ta­gions from get­ting into the body. Hot flu­ids also can help in­crease the move­ment of nasal mu­cus, help­ing to re­lieve stuffi­ness and con­ges­tion.

Chicken soup also can help re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, which of­ten re­sults as the im­mune sys­tem works to fight the cold virus. A study in the jour­nal Chest found that chicken soup ap­pears to in­hibit neu­trophil chemo­taxis, which is the move­ment of cer­tain im­mune cells to mu­cus mem­brane sur­faces. As a re­sult, mu­cus pro­duc­tion is in­hib­ited and cold symp­toms are re­duced.

Chicken soup is loaded with im­mune­boost­ing veg­eta­bles and other in­gre­di­ents that pro­vide phy­tonu­tri­ents. The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety de­fines phy­tonu­tri­ents, or phy­to­chem­i­cals, as plant com­pounds like carotenoids, ly­copene, resver­a­trol, and phy­tos­terols that are thought to have health-pro­tect­ing qual­i­ties. Chicken soup may also con­tain onions and gar­lic, which are be­lieved to have nat­u­ral an­tibac­te­rial or an­ti­sep­tic prop­er­ties.

An eas­ily di­gestible com­fort food, chicken soup also helps a per­son feel bet­ter be­cause it ef­fec­tively de­liv­ers vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

While some pro­fess that home­made chicken soup is the key to fight­ing a cold, many com­mer­cially-made soups fit the bill as well. The salt, steam, veg­eta­bles, chicken protein, and sooth­ing broth com­bine to form a wor­thy ad­ver­sary to the com­mon cold.

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