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Aug 12, 2019 | | Say something

Does chicken soup help the cold? Does the ginger ale calm the belly? Here is the science behind popular food cures.


It seems that each family has its own bag of magic tricks to treat ailments that affect us all; Chicken soup for the common cold is perhaps the most universal. There are ginger ale for stomach aches, prunes for digestive problems and honey for cough, among others. But has it been shown that any of them really works? Let's take a look at some of the most durable food cures and see what the whole science says.

Chicken soup for a cold

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian and director of food and nutrition at Medcan, writes in The Globe and Mail that there is no evidence to prove that eating chicken soup is effective in treating the common cold. However, she explains that it is not a total failure. She writes:
"According to a 2000 study from the University of Nebraska, it was shown that a homemade chicken soup containing chicken, many vegetables, parsley, salt and pepper inhibits the activity of white blood cells that cause inflammation in the blood samples of volunteers It was thought that this could reduce the flow of mucus and relieve nasal congestion Another study (1978) found that drinking hot chicken soup increased the speed of nasal secretions in 15 healthy volunteers, a result that could help clean the nose The effect lasted only 30 minutes and drinking hot water had the same effect. "

Although when I read that same 1978 study, I see a different conclusion: "Hot chicken soup, either through the aroma detected in the rear nostrils or through a mechanism related to taste, seems to have an additional substance to increase speed of nasal mucus. "

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Meanwhile, as UCLA notes, according to a 1998 report by Coping with Allergies and Asthma, "chicken soup can improve the ability of small projections in the nose (called cilia) to prevent infectious particles from affecting the body."

Although I don't eat birds, I would say that chicken soup has some science in its cut. That said, my family makes a spicy vegetable soup with ginger, garlic, peppers and lime that I am sure will cure the cold.

Cough honey

In "What works best for children's colds? It's not medicine," I wrote about a study that showed that honey surpassed the popular cough suppressant dextromethorphan (DM) in the treatment of cough symptoms in children. .

Dr. Shonna Yin of the N.Y.U. The Faculty of Medicine says that comfort for sick children can come in the form of “many fluids to keep children well hydrated, and honey for cough in children older than one year (there is no honey for babies under one year old due to the risk of botulism). ) Other measures may include ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever and saline nasal drops for congestion. "

Prunes for regularity

Poor prunes. It was the whole vibe of "the grandmother needs prunes for her constipation" that made her brand change as "dried plums" necessary. But as you call them, they are delicious. And guess what, science also supports its effectiveness in helping with regularity. Hurrah, prunes dried plums!

A 2014 study found that eating eight to 10 prunes per day increased stool weight and bowel movement frequency in people with constipation and without constipation. For constipation, the authors wrote, "prunes seem superior to psyllium to improve stool frequency and consistency."

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Another study found that for constipation, prunes should be considered as a first-line therapy.

Half a cup of prunes has about 6 grams of fiber for about 200 calories; They also have natural sugar, sorbitol, which can act as a laxative for some people.

Ginger ale for nausea

The ginger ale always went out to my childhood home because of stomach aches, and I'm pretty sure it helped because the soda was otherwise verboten. Since there is no real ginger in most ginger beers, it could not have been ginger. That said, ginger is commonly used medicinally in Asian, Indian and Arab herbal traditions. In China, ginger has been used to help all types of digestion disorders for more than 2,000 years.

Currently, health professionals commonly recommend ginger to help prevent or treat nausea and vomiting. It is also used as a digestive aid for mild stomach upset. Commission E of Germany approved ginger as a treatment for indigestion and dizziness.

Drinking ginger tea, whether hot or cold, is a wonderful way to calm your belly. Grate or cut the fresh ginger and let it seep with boiled water for 10 minutes, or more if you like it spicy. Hot and spicy ginger tea with lemon and honey also works wonders for a stuffy nose, I'm not sure science has researched it, but it definitely offers at least temporary relief.

In addition, here is how to make homemade ginger ale with real ginger: 8 homemade alternatives to unhealthy soft drinks.

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Lavender to induce sleep

This is not a food remedy, per se, but since lavender is edible and popular, I couldn't put it aside. While it sounds too good (or too incredible) to be true, "research shows that the smell of lavender lowers heart rate and blood pressure, key elements of relaxation," says sleep expert Richard Shane, PhD, said to RD. "It has been shown that the two main chemicals in lavender have sedative and analgesic effects."

Meanwhile, a 2005 study found that exposure to lavender essential oil increased the percentage of deep or slow wave sleep (SWS) in men and women; and the study subjects reported "greater vigor the morning after lavender exposure, which corroborates the restorative increase in SWS." Together with other findings of the study, the authors concluded that "lavender serves as a mild sedative and has practical applications as a novel and non-photographic method to promote deep sleep in young men and women and to produce gender-dependent sleep effects" .

For the study, the subjects received an essential oil presentation during the first two minutes of each 10 minute interval between 11:10 p.m. and 11:40 p.m. Therefore, you can try two minutes every eight minutes, three times, before going to sleep.

And if you don't have lavender on hand, you can try to have a sleeping cap, which is known to help you fall asleep. The only problem is that science says it will make sleeping during the second part of the night more difficult.

Does chicken soup help the cold? Does the ginger ale calm the belly? Here is the science behind popular food cures.


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