Inside the Science Behind Your Favorite Cure for the Cold
It’s not unusual to want to wrap your hands around a hot cup of chicken noodle soup when you’re clogged up and bogged down with a cold. You may even swear that you’re feeling better after that first sip. And while there’s no research yet on whether it’s the memory of your mom’s home remedies that makes you feel better, studies do support the cold-fighting effects of chicken noodle soup.
A classic bowl of chicken noodle soup includes chicken broth, vegetables (usually celery, carrots, onion that are full of vitamin A, C and other antioxidants), chicken (packed with protein) and noodles (comfort food carbs). The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants spread across the bits that give chicken noodle soup it’s bulk are all known to support a strong immune system - and protein can pack a punch as well. But at the end of the day, the real relief comes from the broth itself.
It’s All About the Broth
Chicken broth is a great source of vitamins, minerals and provides a healthy amount of fat, too. Furthermore, its properties directly help address the symptoms of the common cold, such as coughing and congestion.
White blood cells called neutrophils go straight to your throat when you have a cold and create inflammation, which is responsible for your coughing and sore throat. Chicken noodle soup has been associated with preventing this movement and can serve as an anti-inflammatory for this reason.
Chicken noodle soup also relieves congestion. First, the steam from hot soup and the salt in the broth thins mucus. Then, the heat of the broth dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow, which in turn speeds up the movement of mucus. That improves airflow and reduces congestion.
Hydration is one of the most important components of treating a cold. As a liquid, chicken broth naturally hydrates the body, but broth also includes salt and electrolytes that help with retention.
Finally, research also suggests chicken noodle soup can prevent additional contagions from entering your body by improving the function of cilia, tiny hairline projections in your nose.
So next time you’re feeling under the weather and your gut instinct tells you to fix a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, there’s no need to hesitate. Find a recipe for a healthy homemade version and learn more in the infographic below.