Why Soup Can Make You Feel Better When You’re Sick

Photo by Maria DelRio.
Your nose won’t stop dripping, your throat feels like you just swallowed an entire knife set, and keeping your eyes open requires pretty much all the strength you have in your face. And all you want is a warm bowl of soup to cuddle and sip.
But what is it about soup — a.k.a. Jewish penicillin — that makes many of us feel better when we have a cold? Sure, it’s comforting, tasty, and easy to eat, but would medical professionals actually prescribe a bowl of hot matzo ball or lentil soup to help cure an illness?
While there is no official cure for the common cold, research suggests that soup can, at the very least, help relieve symptoms. A study published in the medical journal Chest in October 2000 took chicken soup off the sick day sofa and into the laboratory and concluded that chicken soup "may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity." That is, chicken soup may really help you feel better, especially when it comes to respiratory infections and head colds.
Science has yet to conclude that soup is the key to getting better, but doctors and nutritionists have some theories on why soup can sometimes make your sickness feel less plague-like. Ahead, we break down why soup may actually make you feel better when you’re sick. If only insurance would cover ramen delivery...

More from Body

R29 Original Series