“Make no bones about it – chicken soup is the nation’s go-to dish when we’re feeling blue – but is there more to this brothy tonic than its comforting connotations? What do you reach for when your body succumbs to the winter sniffles? A ‘State of the Nation’ survey revealed the majority of us find sanctuary in the warming goodness of chicken soup – but why are boiled bones so restorative? Please read on and discover how the classic tonic delivers more than just a placebo high…
It may be worth giving yourself a dose of chicken soup as a preventative measure before the first twinge of a cold appears. A 1998 report from Coping with Allergies and Asthma found that broth may improve the function of cilia (the tiny hairs in our noses) that prevent contagions getting into the body.
Added benefit to support immunity
Other key ingredients in a chicken soup include onions, garlic and additional vegetables that add flavour and a healthy dose of phytonutrients – vital for a well-functioning immune system. They can also help to reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn may help to ease the symptoms of a pesky cold.
At the first sign of sickness, your body will be working overtime to fight off infection, and this takes energy. Often we don’t feel like eating much when under the weather, but this is where the old adage, ‘feed a cold’ rings true. Chicken soup is a great source of healthy, easily digested calories, with heaps of added nutritional benefits.
Keeping our digestive system healthy is especially important when we’re sick so that our bodies are able to absorb all the infection-fighting vitamins and minerals it needs from the food we eat. Glucosamine is one of the main building blocks of our digestive system and is released from bones when they’re cooked down. As your broth cools, a layer of gelatine will congeal on the surface. This combination of gelatine and glucosamine can help protect and heal the lining of the digestive tract.
Chicken is especially rich in a compound called carnosine, and it’s this that studies suggest helps reduce that stuffy, congested feeling in your nose and throat. It’s thought that carnosine minimises inflammation in the upper respiratory tract by stopping the migration of white blood cells. The benefit only lasts for as long as the soup remains in the body – so be sure to make up a big batch!
When cooking bones with joint tissue on them (like necks, knuckles, ribs or the leftover carcass from a roasted chicken) the joint tissue cooks down and dissolves into the broth. The gelatine, glucosamine and chondroitin contained within are released into the broth, absorbed by our bodies and used to repair and rebuild our own connective tissue while reducing inflammation, helping you to get back on your feet faster after a bout of illness.
The nostalgia factor
While the evidence stacks in favour of chicken soup being the ultimate cold remedy, don’t underestimate the power of placebo. If your mum used to tuck you up with a bowl of boiling broth and promised it would make you feel all better, these associations probably still influence how you feel today. The placebo effect is a well-documented phenomenon, relating to the power of the mind over the body – if we expect to get better as a result of a medicinal or natural tonic, we often will feel that we are on the mend. The message? Think positive and eat up!
You’ve read the science, perhaps now it’s time to try some soup!”
“this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider.”
Rustic Roast Chicken Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 tbsp. thyme leaves, roughly chopped
300g leftover roast chicken, shredded and skin removed
200g frozen peas
3 tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
squeeze lemon juice
Other soup recipes you may like
I hope these winter roses may help to cheer you up
All the best Jan