London: A compound found in chicken soup - carnosine helps the body's immune system to fight the early stages of flu, according to a new study.

Research in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that chicken broth might be an effective homespun remedy for cold that might ail people during winter.

However, researchers warned this benefit ended as soon as the soup was excreted by the body, so that means you may need to have a fairly constant supply, reported.

In another study a decade ago, Dr Stephen Rennard, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, wanted to find out why chicken soup was so healing. Using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of the most common type of white blood cell, neutrophils, which defend against infection.

Rennard theorised that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. The tested soup contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper.

Researchers found many commercial soups had a similar inhibitory effect. It is probable that the combination of nutrients worked in synergy to provide the beneficial effect. Another study, from Miami, also suggested chicken soup has more than a placebo effect.

It looked at how consuming it affected air flow and mucus in the noses of 15 volunteers who drank cold water, hot water or chicken soup.

It proved that hot fluids help increase the movement of nasal mucus which in turn clears the airways, easing congestion. Soup did a better job than the hot water as it also improves the function of protective cilia, the tiny hairlike projections in the nose that prevent contagions from entering the body.

Also, researchers at the University of Nebraska found the combination of vegetables and poultry in soup could help alleviate respiratory tract inflammation that results in feeling bunged-up.


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