It is that time of the year again; fever, cough, sore throat, chills…cold and flu season is here. Why do more people get sick in the winter? Some research shows when internal body temperature drops after exposure to cold air, the immune system can drop as well making us more susceptible to colds.
The best way to stop a cold is to protect yourself. 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 Pennsylvania Department of Health is reporting flu activity to be widespread in the Philadelphia area at the moment. Activity is likely to 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 helpful include: Campbell’s Home Cookin’ Chicken Vegetable, Campbell’s Healthy Request Chicken Noodle, Lipton Cup-o-soup Chicken Noodle, and Progresso Chicken Noodle.