Chicken Soup for the Immune System

With flu season approaching, we asked a pediatrician at Mercy to weigh in on the age-old question: Does eating chicken noodle soup really help you when you’re sick?

By Rose Marthis

Nov 2015


Winter is coming. Air gets colder. Houses get warmer. Noses get runnier. The change of season usually brings a change in well-being with it, and immune systems of adults and children alike are prone to the dreaded flu season. While there are new medicines being developed constantly and preventative measures are becoming more popular, one solution to sickness has been around for ages: Parents giving their kids chicken noodle soup to make them feel better. But does this childhood favorite actually help your immune system or just your mood? Dr. Ronald G. Jones, a pediatrician at Mercy Clinic Pediatrics-Whiteside, says it does both. 

Eating chicken noodle soup when you have come down with the flu or a common cold will help you feel better because introducing heat, fluids and salt to your body will help the mucus flow and make your throat feel better, Jones says. “Chicken noodle soup is thought to inhibit the movement of white blood cells to reduce inflammation,” he adds. While chicken noodle soup is the subject of the saying passed down for generations, Jones says any soup will do. The important thing is keeping your body full of fluid and nutrition. So if chicken noodle soup isn’t really your fancy, try tomato soup or chicken with rice. Next time you’re feeling under the weather, make yourself a big bowl of your favorite soup, and you can rest easy knowing your go-to warm-you-up meal does actually have some scientific evidence behind its success.