For many of us, the idea of having a child home sick from school usually conjures up standard imagery: comfy pajamas, a cozy bed, a box of tissues and a piping hot bowl of chicken noodle soup. It is such a common scene that we don’t stop to ask ourselves: Why chicken noodle soup? Does it contain something special that other soups don’t?
Dr. Carmela Sosa, Valley Children’s medical director of primary care, sheds some light on the question: Is there any real health benefit to giving your child chicken noodle soup when they’re sick?
“Chicken noodle soup has been a longtime staple of home remedies for colds and flu,” Dr. Sosa says. “The reason it has stuck around for so long is that it isn’t just an old wife’s tale. Warm foods, such as chicken noodle soup, can be a great source of comfort when your child is feeling under the weather. The warm, clear broth helps keep them hydrated and temporarily opens their nasal passages. The other typical ingredients – salt, spices, vegetables, chicken and noodles – provide electrolytes, protein and carbohydrates that your child’s body needs during times when they’re not eating or drinking as much as usual.”
Although chicken noodle soup has these benefits, Dr. Sosa warns, it’s important to be aware that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Chicken noodle soup can be high in sodium, so it’s important to know how much soup your child is taking in, especially if they have an underlying health problem.
Don’t rely on soup as a primary source of hydration; be sure to give your child lots of fluids to drink to help their body recover more quickly from an illness. It’s critical to understand that while chicken noodle soup won’t cure a cold, it can help your child feel better. It is also important to remember that it is not a substitute for medicine or medical advice. If your child feeling sick, it’s always best to contact their pediatrician first.