There’s no better traditional comfort food than chicken soup when you’re sick. Its savoury qualities and soothing warmth, which many attribute to its medicinal qualities, have always attracted people to this savoury staple.
Still, experts haven’t done much research to find out the health benefits of this standard sick day. Until a well-known and widely cited lab study from 2000 revealed that chicken soup may have anti-inflammatory properties, clinical researchers haven’t spent much time or energy investigating the potential health advantages of grandma’s homemade remedy for the common cold and flu.
It goes without saying that not all forms of healing require scientific validation in order to be efficacious. Individuals may derive anecdotal benefits from a wide range of non-studied practices. However, enough people claim to feel better after consuming chicken soup, thus further research is warranted. Is this soup just a big bowl of hype, or is it actually food used as medicine?
As with any multi-ingredient food, chicken soup’s health benefits are a matter of its individual components. The typical soup comes together with chicken broth, chicken meat, and a smattering of savory vegetables and alliums like carrots, garlic, onions, and celery.
Studies have also been conducted on the antiviral and anti-inflammatory qualities of onions and garlic. For instance, a May 2023 study found that senior citizens who regularly ingested extracts of onions and garlic had improved resistance to contagious respiratory illnesses.
Even the broth or water in chicken soup may be beneficial. It’s simple to become dehydrated when ill, so drinking something that contains water can be beneficial.
Plus, chicken broth can replenish electrolytes lost due to gastrointestinal illnesses because a cup contains 924 milligrammes of salt. Chicken bone broth delivers even higher levels of various electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, and chloride. In essence, the 2000 study discovered that chicken soup blocked neutrophil chemotaxis, which is a fancy way of saying that it assisted in momentarily reducing inflammation to allow sick people to breathe more easily.
Each vegetable in the soup as well as the chicken on its own exhibited this inhibitory action, the study found.
Despite the lack of any groundbreaking research on chicken soup, it seems that not much has changed since 2000. Indeed, when the original researchers from the University of Nebraska returned to the subject in 2021, they were able to establish that “what we accomplished in the laboratory was actually quite thorough… Our research indicates that typical meals include chemicals that may have anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s probably ideal to serve the chicken soup warm as well. Eating and drinking hot meals and beverages has been associated with more favourable emotional responses, so it can’t harm to indulge when you’re feeling down.
Overall, chicken soup may not be a magic bullet to stop sickness, but if you discover it makes you feel better, go ahead and slurp away.