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Soup really heals

Most persons take time off at this time of year to spend with family or to prepare, but not, it seems, contributors to Barbados Today. Come rum, or sorrel, ham or turkey, we have to be submitting and on time!

Research seen in the American Journal of Therapeutics has confirmed what a lot of Bajan and Jewish mothers have always known – that chicken soup is good for reducing cold and flu symptoms.

It seems that a compound found in chicken soup, carnosine, helps the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu.

Dr. Stephen Rennard discovered that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils found in the blood stream. These neutrophils are used by the body to defend against infection. Rennard theorised that by preventing the movement of these infection fighting cells in the body, chicken soup reduces the upper respiratory cold symptoms, which means that the runny nose, blocked nose etc associated with the flu will be lessened.

For the cooks amongst us, the soup contained chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper. For the non-cooks, Campbell’s has worked too.

Evidence suggests that organosulfides (naturally occurring chemicals found in garlic and onions), together with Vitamin D, stimulate production of immune cells called macrophages, while Vitamin C has an influence on both levels of neutrophils, and another type of immune chemical, interferon.

Vitamin A and Carotenoids, found in carrots (a common ingredient of bouillon, the base of any good stock), help antibody production, while Vitamin E and zinc can influence the concentration of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

The other reason soups are recommended is that the nutrients are more easily absorbed than with solid versions. Remember to add a little fat — a drizzle of olive oil — to ensure the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (D, A, K and E).

You do not have to live on chicken soup alone when you are under the weather: the foods that offer a concentration of the nutrients mentioned include a wide range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lean proteins.

Hot liquids, herbal teas are effective, too.

While Vitamin C will not stop you getting a cold, it might reduce the severity, so including sweet potato, peppers, kiwi and citrus fruits in the diet are advisable.

There is no evidence to confirm that dairy food increases mucus, but we mistakenly think it does as the lactose can add a white colour to what’s already there, making it seem more obvious.

Therefore, having plain yogurt with berries topped with flaked almonds is ideal as it offers probiotics as well as Carotenoids, vitamins A, C and E, together with omega 6 fats.

Obviously chicken soup alone will not do everything, but combined with your normal anti-flu medicines, it becomes a winner.

Whilst we are on that subject, let us look at sore throats, as they usually accompany the flu. One thing about the chicken soup though is that if it is piping hot, it may make your sore throat worse.

As very hot or very cold fluids can make your sore throat worse, what is needed are warm fluids and things to keep the throat moist. So mints become a no-no, as they will tend to dry the throat, get sweets or lollipops along with your other stuff. Antibiotics are rarely needed for sore throats, as most sore throats are viral in nature.


According to research by the Institute of Medical Science, and Jeju National University in South Korea, amino acids and minerals found in asparagus may alleviate hangover symptoms and protect liver cells against toxins.

As part of the study, which was published in the Journal of Food Science, researchers analysed the components of young asparagus shoots and leaves and compared their biochemical effects on human, and rat, liver cells.

Lead researcher B.Y. Kim said: “Cellular toxicities were significantly alleviated in response to treatment with extracts of asparagus leaves and shoots.

“These results provide evidence of how the biological functions of asparagus can help alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells.”

The researchers also looked at the different components of the asparagus plant to find which portions of it would be most beneficial in preventing the dreaded effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

They found that the leaves of the asparagus had higher amino acid and mineral content than the shoots, meaning that the leaves would be better able to protect the liver from damage and prevent hangovers.

A previous study by researchers at Cheju National University School of Medicine, in Korea, showed that asparagus is high in amino acids and that those amino acids stimulate enzyme functions which accelerate the breakdown of alcohol in the body.

In an informal study Deokbae Park, professor of medicine at the university, found that volunteers who drank a liquid containing asparagus extracts reported fewer hangover symptoms.

Another product that can help prevent hangovers is an ayervedic preparation called LIV 52. This liver cleanser also protects against the damage caused by alcohol toxicity.

This should be the last article for the year, if it is, well, I must express my thanks and gratitude to all at Barbados Today, for their patience and for affording me the opportunity to help. To you the reader, thanks for enduring me. Make next year a better year, be caring and sharing the love.

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