Do you get more colds than you'd like each winter?  If you have kids, do you seem to catch every bug that they bring home with them from school?  Did you miss work last winter due to a cold or flu?

Cold and flu season can be exhausting if your immune system isn't functioning as well as it should. No one wants to get sick, and if you do end up sick then you want the recovery to be fast.  Did your Grandma ever feed you homemade chicken soup when you got sick?   Chicken soup is great for aiding in recovery or as a preventative measure.  Chicken soup is full of amino acids such as glycine and proline that reduce inflammation that is part of the immune response.  In addition, it is full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that are easily absorbed.  When your body is working hard to fight off an infection, then having foods that are easy to absorb is important.

Soup As A Preventative Measure

Did you know that a healthy gut acts as a line of defence against colds and flus?  The first thing cold and flu bugs come into contact with in your gut are the gut microbiome.  If the organisms that make up your microbiome are mostly beneficial or neutral species, then they can play a big role in managing a viral or bacterial infection.  These organisms keep opportunistic species in check.  If your gut organisms fail to keep cold and flu bugs in check, then the intestinal barrier is the next line of defence.  Your small intestine has a lining of cells that act as a barrier to viral and bacterial infections.  If that barrier is strong then it keeps foreign invaders out, but if it is compromised then you will be more likely to get an infection.  Having a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy intestinal barrier are important components to prevent illness.

Guess which food helps you to have a strong intestinal barrier?  If you guessed chicken soup, then you are right.  But it doesn't have to be chicken soup to be beneficial.  It could be oxtail soup, pork soup or any other kind of soup that is made with bones and connective tissue.  Connective tissue includes things like skin and cartilage, so a whole chicken, a pork hock, or ribs are great starter ingredients for a great cold-fighting or cold-prevention soup stock.

Making Simple Chicken Soup

If you've never made soup stock before, it's probably easier than you'd think.  I always encourage people to start with chicken.  It has such a great flavour, and it's simple to make.  Here are simple steps:
1.  Place a whole pasture-raised chicken into a slow-cooker or large saucepan.
2.  Fill the pot with water until the chicken is covered.
3.  Add a quartered onion, 1 tsp of sea salt or Himalayan salt, and several cloves of garlic.
4.  If you are using a saucepan on the stove, then bring everything to a boil, skim off any scum that floats to the surface, and then reduce heat to a low simmer.  It will take about 1 1/2 hours to cook the whole chicken.
If you are using a slow cooker, then set it to low for about 8 hours until the chicken is done.  Once the chicken is cooked you can carefully remove it from the pot, set it on a large plate and remove all the meat and put it back into the soup.  You can keep or discard the onion and garlic pieces.