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Omaha Senior Care: Why is Chicken Soup Good for a Cold?

By , 8:00 am on

Why is chicken soup good for a cold? For starters, a Nebraskan proved it is! Yes, Dr. Stephen Rennard, a pulmonary expert at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha uncovered substantiation for Grandma’s long held belief that chicken soup is good for your sniffy nose and clogged head.  The facts boil down to anti-inflammatory properties in the soup.

How did Grandma know? From her grandma, and so on, until the dawn of grandmas and colds.  Grandmas have always told us stuff like “avoid dairy when you have a cold,” and “use a shelled walnut to buff out scratches on your furniture.”   The first one does not have medical basis and the second one is a spot on method to fix an ugly scrape.

Chicken soup has several benefits for cold sufferers.

  1. It is a supreme comfort food, apart from any medicinal value.
  2. The steaming hot soup clears nasal congestion, making your head feel lighter and clearer. Adding srirachi chili sauce amps up this affect, as well.
  3. Dr. Rennard found a substance in the chicken soup that reduced the amount of production of white blood cells in the lungs.  White blood cells respond to the presence of the cold virus by creating the very upper respiratory symptoms cold sufferers hate: coughs, mucus-filled heads and lungs, runny eyes, and sneezes.  While he could not say exactly why the soup works, he theorizes it is a combination of the broth, the chicken and the vegetables.
  4. A Mount Sinai research study found that chicken soup, when tested against hot water, improved the function of the nasal cilia, tiny hair-like projections which help keep infectious particles out of our bodies.

The Mayo Clinic says no matter how much chicken soup you consume, you’re going to be sick for 1 to 2 weeks.

They do agree with Dr. Rennard and grandmas the world over, that it is good for you and will relieve symptoms. A steady diet of chicken soup, water and other fluids, decongestants for adults and saline nasal sprays will at least help you feel better for the duration.

If you feel well enough, you could make Dr. Rennard’s Chicken Soup. Since if freezes well, make it in advance and freeze it in single serving sizes for easy, microwaveable comfort.  For those without a culinary bent, the canned versions of chicken soup are just as beneficial.

Dr. Rennard’s Grandma’s Chicken Soup (Courtesy of his wife’s very own Lithuanian grandmother and

Grandma’s Chicken Soup Recipe


1 5- to 6-pound stewing hen or baking chicken

1 package of chicken wings

3 large onions

1 large sweet potato

3 parsnips

2 turnips

11 to 12 large carrots

5 to 6 celery stems

1 bunch of parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
  2. Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 ½ hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
  3. Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
  4. Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup.
  5. Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste

(Note: This soup freezes well.)

Matzo balls were prepared according to the recipe on the back of the box of matzo meal (Manischewitz).

Lee Nyberg seeks to help older adults live better lives, through education and her company, Home Care Assistance. 

Home Care Assistance is North America’s premier provider of in-home care for seniors.  Our mission is to change the way the world ages. We provide older adults with quality care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home. Our services are distinguished by the caliber of our caregivers, the responsiveness of our staff and our expertise in Live-In care. We embrace a positive, balanced approach to aging centered on the evolving needs of older adults. For more information visit our website at this link: Hourly Home Care Explained.  Or, if you’d like to speak with a Care Manager right away, call us at 402-763-9140.


Photo credit: 137. FunkyChicken by InAweOfGodsCreation.

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