Chicken soup may be soul food. It may be comfort food. But it is also one of the best options when it comes to your health. And here is why.
You see, chicken soup is an excellent source of nourishment – especially when you are ill. It contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals, has anti-inflammatory properties, is great at improving the symptoms commonly associated with respiratory ailments, and is a means of balanced eating. Besides being nourishing, it is also easy on the stomach, making it a perfect meal-in-a-pot and saving you time on cleaning up.
Every family has their secret chicken soup recipe. Here is ours. Good eating!
You will need
According to studies, it seems Grandma knew what she was talking about.
Studies show that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties. This is because chicken soup stops neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, from migrating to a site of infection. In so doing, there is reduced inflammation with a corresponding improvement in your symptoms.
As far as colds and flu are concerned, these are upper respiratory tract infections usually caused by viruses. Your nose, throat, and sinuses may be targeted. When this happens, your immune system responds, sending white blood cells to the site of infection. The first of the white blood cells to arrive are the neutrophils. This is usually why the common cold has inflammation as one of its symptoms. Chicken soup inhibits the neutrophil migration, resulting in less inflammation and symptoms.
The greatest part of the soup is liquid. This helps with mucous membrane hydration, meaning that it is easier for the mucous to drain. Your breathing is therefore easier. Furthermore, chicken soup is usually eaten while warm. The heat also helps to clear out any stuffiness and helps with the draining of mucous. Lastly, as mentioned, the inflammation-reducing ability of chicken soup helps to lessen symptoms. One of these is nasal congestion.
People who are ill are also usually feverish and may lose a lot of their body fluid by means of their sweat. It is also often difficult to eat or drink. As a result, they often become dehydrated and do not get the vitamins and minerals their bodies need to fight off the illness. Chicken soup comes to the rescue, as it contains a sizeable volume of liquid, therefore helping to combat dehydration, while the vitamins and minerals it contains help to top up your body’s needs.
Consisting of a sizeable portion of liquid, as well as antioxidants and fiber, chicken soup is great at detoxifying the body. It aids in urinary tract health while softening stools and making them easier to pass. Chicken soup is thus also a good option if you have constipation.
Compared to many other foods, a bowl of chicken soup has a low calorie count. This is because the protein used, i.e. chicken, is low in fat but provides a good protein source, and the vegetables have a lot of fiber. Add to this the high water percentage, and you have a meal that helps combat hunger while being healthy at the same time.
Chicken is also a rich source of B vitamins, which support the nervous system and help with the digestive process. The iron in this soup helps with muscle health and oxygen transportation via your bloodstream. It is also packed with essential minerals and other vitamins.
Many people suffer from adrenal fatigue without even knowing it. This is largely because of the wide variety of diverse symptoms, making this condition so difficult to diagnose. Also, conventional medicine does not even recognize AFS as a condition. Instead, the focus is on addressing the multitude of symptoms.
But what is adrenal fatigue and what are the symptoms?
Adrenal fatigue is the result of constant, ongoing stress. The cause of stress may differ from one person to the next and does not only include emotional issues. It may be the result of environmental issues, physical issues relating to your body, or even due to lifestyle.
Essentially, what happens when your body goes into stress mode is that your body, more essentially your adrenal glands, produces more cortisol in order to get ready to face the situation or run away from it. This is called the “fight or flight” response and is an automatic reaction governed by what is called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This automatic reaction is commonly referred to as the body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system.
When stress is perceived, the hypothalamus in the brain sends chemical messengers to the pituitary gland which then sends its own set of chemical messengers to the adrenals, resulting in an increase in cortisol production. Usually, when the threat passes, everything returns to normal. During this time, functions that are not regarded necessary for your immediate survival are either switched off or slowed down. Your heart rate increases and more glucose is released for energy.
The problem arises when the stress does not go away, but continues, resulting in constant increased cortisol production. In the long term, this may have a cascading, debilitating effect on the body, affecting myriad body functions. The results of this may include hormone imbalance, immune issues that include inflammation and infection dysfunction, compromised gut health, and compromised heart function, among many more. Although there is a vast variety of symptoms that relate to these different issues, the root cause may be the increased cortisol production and the ever-increasing levels of cortisol in your body.
The latter stages of adrenal fatigue see the adrenal glands unable to fulfill the body’s constant, elevated, cortisol requirements, with the adrenals becoming worn out. Your body then starts looking at other ways of gaining the cortisol it believes it needs for survival. The end result is debilitating, and may even, eventually, result in death.
The symptoms associated with adrenal fatigue range from slight to dangerous, depending on the root cause as well as the stage of adrenal fatigue you find yourself in. These include, amongst many others:
Inflammation is one of your body’s stress responses, with four body systems involved - the gastrointestinal tract, immune system, microbiome, and brain. Thus, when stress is encountered, your body responds by means of inflammation. Inflammation is not a bad thing as it is a mechanism protecting your body against any foreign invaders and a normal part of your immune reaction. In response to this inflammation, your adrenal glands increase their cortisol production, which suppresses inflammation. This prevents inflammation from getting out of hand. When suffering from adrenal fatigue, however, this constant cortisol overload may actually work at suppressing inflammation to such an extent that your immune system becomes compromised. Chronic infection is usually the result of stress and lifestyle habits. A lack of exercise and a diet lacking in the proper nutrients, e.g. one where fast foods are the norm rather than the exception, may result in chronic inflammation. This boosts your cortisol production and cortisol levels even more. This has a negative influence on your body’s immune system and may increase your susceptibility to colds and flu as well as other health conditions, such as cancer, food allergies, autoimmune disease, and gastrointestinal issues.
The anti-inflammatory properties of chicken soup thus support immune function by helping to address issues relating to inflammation.
Gastrointestinal issues are closely related to adrenal fatigue. An increase in cortisol activates your body’s sympathetic nervous system. The HPA axis as well as your body’s NEM response to stress form part of this system. Your parasympathetic nervous system, which is related to your gastrointestinal tract, has a reduced function during this period. It is not considered essential for short-term survival. In the long run, however, the consequences could be devastating.
Because digestion and absorption are slowed down, indigestion becomes common, the lining of your whole digestive system becomes inflamed, and you may have ulcers forming. Irritable bowel syndrome and colitis are not uncommon. To add insult to injury, the inflammation of your mucosal lining leads to an even greater demand for cortisol, compounding the issue even further.
Because chicken soup is gentle on the stomach, it helps alleviate some of the symptoms presented by AFS. It is anti-inflammatory, as has been mentioned, while the presence of fiber and a good quantity of liquid helps with constipation issues. Chicken soup is also easy to digest, giving your body back many of the nutrients it needs to aid in its healing process.
The B vitamins and iron in chicken soup are also worth mentioning when it comes to adrenal fatigue.
B vitamins play an important role in your body’s metabolic function at a cellular level. They also play an important role in the adrenal cascade. One of their most important roles is to support adrenal function. People with adrenal fatigue tend to have a deficiency in B vitamins because high cortisol levels may actually deplete your body of these vitamins. The B vitamins present in chicken soup thus help to support adrenal function.
Iron plays an important role in the formation of hemoglobin. It is an oxygen carrier, and essential for the transport of oxygen from one cell to another, including to the brain. Iron is also important for good muscle health. When you have too little iron in your body, you may suffer from feelings of fatigue, may have frequent headaches, feel weak, and become sensitive to temperature. These are symptoms very closely related to adrenal fatigue. Chicken soup helps to increases your body’s iron levels.
While most of us might turn to chicken soup at the first signs of a cold or flu, there is no denying that it is not only for times of runny noses and coughing. It has a wealth of other health benefits as well, with adrenal support in one way or another but one of these.
© Copyright 2019 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
While chicken soup may not ‘cure’ a cold, it has a number of amazing benefits. One of these is its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to help fight infections. So, chicken soup may, actually, be a contributing factor in getting over a cold quicker.