Does chicken soup help a cold?

There’s truth to this old wives’ tale! Chicken soup has been shown to have numerous benefits for a cold.

Chicken soup has been shown to help clear nasal passages and reduce inflammation. While hot fluids generally help clear nasal passages, chicken soup has been shown to be better when compared to other hot liquids (1).

It is a great source of vitamins, minerals, calories, and protein, all of which are nutrients you need when you’re sick (2). It also helps you to stay hydrated and is an excellent source of electrolytes, two critical factors when dealing with a cold or flu (3).

One reason for chicken soups beneficial effect is that chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine which is anti-vital, anti-inflammatory, and helps to break apart mucus (4, 5). For a vegetarian source of cysteine, try adding lentils to your soup. 

Aside from the chicken itself, chicken soup typically contains a number of ingredients that can help to ease cold symptoms. Onions contain a compound called quercetin which is both antiviral and antibiotic (6). Garlic and ginger have also been shown to have antiviral properties (7, 8).

On top of all the actual evidence to show that chicken soup helps fight a cold, it’s also easy to eat and soothing when you’re not feeling well.


  1. “Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance.” CHEST. (1978).
  2. Metabolic response to injury and illness: estimation of energy and protein needs from indirect calorimetry and nitrogen balance
  3. Water, electrolytes, vitamins and trace elements – Guidelines on Parenteral Nutrition, Chapter 7
  4. Existing and potential therapeutic uses for N-acetylcysteine: the need for conversion to intracellular glutathione for antioxidant benefits
  5. Adjunctive therapies and immunomodulating agents for severe influenza
  6. “Modulatory effects of plant phenols on human multidrug-resistance proteins 1, 4 and 5 (ABCC1, 4 and 5).” FEBS J. (2005).
  7. “Garlic for the common cold.” The Cochrane Library. (2009).
  8. “Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” J Ethnopharmacol. (2013).

Collagen Powder

Benefits of dietary collagen, causes of collagen damage, and how to add more collagen to your diet!

Dietary collagen has been shown to have lots of potential health benefits:

  • Slow aging by reducing wrinkles and dryness (1)
  • Reduction in wrinkle depth (2)
  • Improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain (3, 4)
  • Reduce bone loss and prevent osteoporosis when combined with calcium (5)
  • Increased bone density (6)
  • May boost muscle mass when combined with resistance training (7)
  • Increase HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce artery stiffness (7)

Despite the benefits we do know, there are many things not yet supported by evidence. Overall more research needs to be done!

Not supported but not refuted by evidence:

  • Helping to prevent acne and other skin conditions
  • Improvements to gut health
  • Increased metabolism and weight loss

Things that damage collagen:

  • Smoking (9)
  • Too much sugar and refined carbs (10)
  • Too much sun exposure (11)

Collagen has shown to not have any associated risks and appears to be safe for most people though some experience fullness and heart burn. If you take collagen supplements and notice any side effects be sure to consult your doctor.

While we can get collagen from the diet, the body also makes it if you provide your body with the right building blocks! In order to promote collagen production in the body ensure that you’re consuming complete proteins and adequate vitamin C. Even though humans produce collagen, getting it through diet is beneficial because as we age we produce less and lower quality collagen.

Collagen comes from the connective tissue of animals, animal skin and bones are a good source of collagen. Foods like bone broth that contain gelatin provide collagen. If you notice a gel on refrigerated stock, bone broth, or other animal product, that’s gelatin!

Bone broth has become popular in the last few years but collagen powder is another great way to add more collagen to your diet. It is easily added to any liquid and is flavorless. It mixes into hot liquids better than cold so I usually add it to my morning coffee. Adding collagen powder to soups and sauces is very easy but I’ve mixed it into foods like mashed potatoes or oatmeal as well.


  1. Skin anti-aging strategies
  2. Effects of a nutritional supplement containing collagen peptides on skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkles
  3. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature
  4. Collagen supplementation as a complementary therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis: a systematic review
  5. A calcium-collagen chelate dietary supplement attenuates bone loss in postmenopausal women with osteopenia: a randomized controlled trial
  6. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study
  7. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial
  8. Effect of Collagen Tripeptide on Atherosclerosis in Healthy Humans
  9. Smoking affects collagen synthesis and extracellular matrix turnover in human skin
  10. Nutrition and aging skin: sugar and glycation
  11. Mechanisms of Photoaging and Cutaneous Photocarcinogenesis, and Photoprotective Strategies with Phytochemicals

Choosing Olive Oil

Choosing olive oil is deceptively difficult but here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you go grocery shopping.

Choosing olive oil is deceptively difficult but here are some tips to keep in mind.

Go for Extra Virgin: these olive oils are the least processed, they weren’t treated with any chemicals or heat. If this is the only thing you look for in olive oil, you’re guaranteed to have at least a baseline level of decent quality olive oil regardless of brand or any other factor. Extra virgin olive oil is always cold-pressed, so no need to look for that on the label.

No “light” olive oil: if a bottle of olive oil is ever described as light, run the other direction. Olive oil is and should always be high in fat!

No clear containers: olive oil can easily be damaged from exposure to light so avoid any olive oil that does not come in a dark glass, tin container, or other opaque.

Look for a specific region: A product labeled merely “Mediterranean” may be of lower quality than you’re anticipating. Mediterranean olive oil is typically made using all the defective leftover olives or olive oil from across the Mediterranean. In addition to defective olives, if defective olive oils from around the world are bottled in Italy they can be sold as Italian olive oil. To avoid these oils check the back of the bottle, it will tell you the country of origin for the oil itself. But a good way to ensure you’re purchasing high-quality oil is to purchase olive oil that is listed by region. For example Sicilian or Kalamata olive oil as opposed to Italian or Greek olive oil. The more specific the better.

In order to not completely break the bank on olive oil alone, I buy two. I buy one more expensive olive oil from a specific region and use that for dressings, marinades, anything else that will really benefit from a distinct olive oil flavor. But, when I am using olive oil to grease a pan, I use a generic extra virgin olive oil.

Does Coffee Cause Dehydration?

Coffee has long been considered a culprit in dehydration but this may be less straight forward than we thought.

Coffee has long been considered a culprit in dehydration because caffeine has a mild diuretic effect. But recent studies have shown that while the caffeine in coffee does increase urination, that increased urination does not counteract the main ingredient in brewed coffee —— WATER.

One study found that consumption of 300 mg of caffeine which is the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee (710 ml) resulted in increased urine production of only 109 ml (1).

In order to see a significant diuretic effect from coffee, it would require the consumption of 5 or more cups of brewed coffee at once (2).


  1. Coffee with High but Not Low Caffeine Content Augments Fluid and Electrolyte Excretion at Rest
  2. No evidence of dehydration with moderate daily coffee intake: a counterbalanced cross-over study in a free-living population

Chamomile and Anxiety

Chamomile has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in those with moderate to severe anxiety.

Feeling anxious?

Chamomile has been shown to significantly reduce anxiety in those with moderate to severe anxiety.

In 2020, we have had a lot to keep us anxious. Whether it be economic insecurity, health, wildfires, police shootings, protests, massive change and disruption in schedules, and now an election that could take days (or longer) to call. While you try to keep your sanity consider turning off the news and curling up with a cup of tea.

In addition to anxiety, chamomile had been shown to help relieve colds, reduce the severity of menstrual cramps, boost the immune system, and act as a mild sedative.

Caesar Dressing

A few years ago I started to make my own salad dressing. This is something I decided to do because store-bought salad dressing almost always contains oils that I specifically try to avoid.

Salad dressing can be as simple as tossing your greens in oil and vinegar. My favorite dressing is Caesar and unfortunately it is a little more complicated than that. It requires a whole lot of whisking but I use a food processor to make the process a little easier.

I use a recipe I found a few years ago from Bon Appetit.

Some notes about this recipe:
– for vegetable oil, I use unrefined peanut or avocado oil, examples of oil to avoid are listed below. In addition to vegetable oil this recipe includes olive oil, you could use olive oil for all of the oil in the recipe but I wouldn’t recommend it. Olive oil has a stronger flavor than vegetable oil and will be noticeable in the finished product
– You can skip anchovies and still have a lovely dressing, when I make this I don’t always remember to buy anchovies so I have made it without them many times

Oils to avoid: soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, grapeseed, refined coconut, refined peanut, refined avocado

If you don’t want to make salad dressing or don’t have time Primal Kitchen makes great dressing with high-quality oil!

Eating on the Wild Side

What’s on my bookshelf vol. 1: Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

Eating on the Wild Side explores the nutrient levels in different fruits and vegetables and how they have changed over time. Corn, as it turns out, was once a bush which produced only a few kernels. Plant breeding eventually resulted in the large cob of corn kernels you see today. Along with the increase in kernels corn also saw an increase in sugar and a decrease in vitamins.

Most produce found in the grocery store has a fraction of the nutrients they once had. But there are ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of your food.

When I buy and prepare produce I remember little tidbits from this book like:
– buy the reddest strawberries
– carrots cooked whole have more antioxidants than carrots cooked sliced
– tart apples have more health benefits than sweet varieties
– the most highly pigmented produce has the most antioxidants, unless you’re buying cabbage in which case stick with white

I could go on….

The book also recommends specific varieties of fruits and vegetables you can find at farmers’ markets. If you have any interest in optimizing your health through nutrition you’ve got to read this book. I find it endlessly fascinating and have read it multiple times.

Cold Weather Stew

Is it just me or did fall weather appear very suddenly? This cooler weather had me craving some hearty stew.

This can be made on the stove, in a slow cooker, or in an Instant Pot.


1-2 lb stew beef
Salt and pepper
1 cup peas
1 cup chopped carrots (3-4 carrots)
1 large potato diced
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
1 tsp curry powder (optional)
2.5 cups stock (I use bone broth)


Place stew beef into a bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Instant Pot: click the sauté button, add olive oil to prevent sticking then add meat

Stove or slow cooker: place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat on medium. Place meat in the pot with olive oil to prevent sticking.

Turn meat occasionally until browned on all sides. Meat does not need to be cooked fully through since it will continue to cook after adding vegetables.

While meat is browning chop all vegetables.

Once the meat is browned add potatoes, carrots, peas, garlic, seasonings, stock, and salt and pepper to taste.

Instant Pot: place lid on with valve closed. Select stew and let Instant Pot do its thing! After the stew is cooked allow pressure to release on its own for 10 minutes. In my experience the longer I let it sit the better

Stove: simmer for 50 minutes or until beef is cooked through and vegetables are tender

Slow cooker: cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours

I also pulled some leftover rice out of the fridge and put that right into the stew, it added some nice texture!

Saturated fat and diabetes risk

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) released a review in their August 2020 publication stating that recent meta analyses of clinical trials and observational studies have found no beneficial effects from limiting saturated fatty acids (SFA) in the diet. Those meta analyses found that saturated fat has a protective effect against stroke.

The review stated “Whole-fat dairy, unprocessed meat, and dark chocolate are SFA-rich foods with a complex matrix that are not associated with increased risk of CVD [Cardiovascular disease]. The totality of available evidence does not support further limiting the intake of such foods.”

Current dietary recommendations are to limit saturated fat to less than 10% of total calories. Carbohydrates are recommended to be 50-60% of total calories however the review found that increased intake of carbohydrates is associated with a higher risk of CVD and mortality.

This is just the latest published evidence that reducing saturated fat has not been found to be beneficial. The evidence against reducing SFA intake has been mounting over the last few years but nutrition education and the dietary guidelines have yet to catch up.

This review goes into detail about the reasons behind the saturated fat recommendations and the benefits of different whole foods which contain high levels of saturated fat.

Practical applications are:
– Increase your saturated fat intake
– Decrease carb intake (especially refined carbs)
– LDL cholesterol lab work can be misleading due to particle size