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“Chicken soups for the soul” has been a phrase popularised by a book that shared inspirational and heartwarming stories of everyday people worldwide. In many cultures, chicken soup is probably one of the soups we enjoy consuming any time of the year, especially when we are feeling under the weather.
Not only are we fond of consuming it when we are feeling sick, but it is also probably the easiest way to have a warm, healthy and balanced meal when one has a low appetite. It is extremely comforting; it feels like it could cure anything. Can it? Is chicken soup, especially black chicken soup, really beneficial for recovery?
Here are a few reasons why you should include chicken soup after delivery
Protein and Amino Acids
Chicken soup is one of the best sources of protein mothers can enjoy during postpartum. Adequate protein intake is essential for muscle repair and collagen production, especially in the pelvic and abdominal regions. Due to the long stewing process, chicken soup is rich in hydrolyzed protein in the form of collagen, peptides and amino acids. Thus, making the protein more easily digestible and absorptive.
Promote Optimal Immune Function and Anti-inflammatory
There is a traditional belief that mothers should avoid consuming chicken during the first few weeks of postpartum as chicken may delay wound recovery. In modern-day scientific studies, there are some studies that suggest some amino acids found in chicken soups, like arginine, are beneficial in stimulating the production of antibodies.
Besides that, chicken soups are rich in bioactive compounds, which are also known to be anti-inflammatory. These compounds optimize the immune system to fight off pathogens by inhibiting the migration of inflammatory cells too. This is especially useful in preserving the intestinal barrier function from infection and inflammation. In some way, it is “gut healing”.
In some cultures, black chicken soup benefits recovery. It is traditionally believed to be even more beneficial and potent in its healing properties. One study suggests that black chicken has higher carnosine content as compared to broiler chicken. Carnosine is a bioactive compound that is found to be anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory. Thus, suggesting that it has the potential to be a functional food to optimize general health.
Chicken soup is also a great source of electrolyte which is an essential part of hydration during postpartum recovery. Adequate electrolyte replenishment, like calcium and potassium, is essential to regulate muscle contraction and relaxation, thus preventing muscle cramps.
Besides that, adequate hydration is extremely important, especially the week after childbirth, as mothers are prone to constipation. Not only are they experiencing sore muscles at the pelvic and perineal region, but some may even experience tears which can be painful and uncomfortable. Thus, preventing constipation as much as possible is essential in order to avoid exerting any additional pressure in this region when mothers are passing motion.
During early postpartum, mothers require a higher intake of iron-rich foods to replenish blood loss after childbirth. Adequate intake of iron helps the body to produce new red blood cells, which are essential in transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body to promote recovery. The lack of iron intake can lead to tiredness due to low red blood cells in the body and, in severe cases, delay wound healing, subsequently at higher risk of infection. Foods like chicken soup can be a great source of iron to incorporate into their meals. Other iron-rich food sources that mothers can include in their diet regularly are pork, eggs, spinach, amaranth and any other green leafy vegetables.
Ultimately, chicken soups should be heavily considered to include in your meals regularly as a good bowl of black chicken soup or broiler chicken soup during meal times will go a long way in supporting postpartum recovery. It is like a one-pot wonder for busy mums. All you need is to throw in some vegetables and pair it with some rice or noodles to make it a wholesome and balanced meal.