Can chicken soup really help fight off a cold? I thought it was just an old wives’ tale. —Walter D., Columbia, SC
It was considered an old wives’ tale until 2000, when University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher Stephen Rennard, M.D., released a now-famous study: He discovered that chicken soup reduces the activity of neutrophils, white blood cells charged with protecting the body against bacteria. This lessens activity in the upper respiratory tract and actually helps minimize a cold’s symptoms. While Rennard and his team didn’t specify exactly what gives chicken soup this property, they theorized that it may be a combination of several ingredients working together.