The common cold is extremely common, but the reason for catching a cold is hard to assess. Some researchers have found when the internal body temperature drops after exposure to cold air, the immune system can drop as well making us more susceptible to colds. This could help explain why more people get sick in the winter rather than the summer.
Taking preventative measures to safeguard your health is strongly recommended. Protect yourself and others by washing your hands often, especially before eating. Avoid unnecessary contact with others and use a paper towel to open bathroom doors. Cough or sneeze into your arm or shoulder instead of into the air. And most importantly stay home when you are sick.
The flu is expected to peak in early January and hopefully decrease as the winter progresses. If you do come down with the flu or a cold, research shows eating chicken soup is beneficial and is much more than comfort food when you are sick.
Researchers found chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. It inhibits the migration of white blood cells to mucous membrane surfaces helping to relieve congestion and decrease cold symptoms.
Chicken soup was also more effective than hot water at thinning mucus and speeding up movement through the nose. This helps limit the amount of time viruses come in contact with the lining of your nose and can decrease the length of your cold.
Chicken soup contains nutrients in a form the body can easily absorb. Vitamin A, C, magnesium, phosphorus, gelatin, and antioxidants have been known to help build a strong immune system and fight off viruses. The protein from chicken provides amino acids which are used to build antibodies to fight infection. The carbohydrates in noodles or rice provide easy to digest energy which keeps you feeling satisfied.
Because chicken soup is mostly liquid, it prevents dehydration, especially if you are sweating from a fever. Plenty of other fluids is also recommended to help maintain hydration levels. The sodium and potassium in chicken soup can help maintain electrolyte balance. If purchasing canned soup, read the food label as some soups contain excessive amounts of sodium. These should be avoided if you are salt sensitive or suffer from high blood pressure.
Some of the brands used in studies that were found to be beneficial include: Campbell’s Home Cookin’ Chicken Vegetable, Campbell’s Healthy Request Chicken Noodle, Lipton Cup-o-soup Chicken Noodle, and Progresso Chicken Noodle.
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
8 cups fat-free lower-sodium chicken broth
2 (4-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
1 (12-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken breast
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
1 cup chopped onion
6 ounces uncooked egg noodles
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine chicken stock with thighs and breast in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and let stand 20 minutes. Remove chicken from bones and shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones.
Add carrots, celery, and onions to pan; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Add noodles and simmer 6 minutes. Add chicken and pepper, cook 2 minutes or until noodles are tender. Garnish with celery leaves if desired.