Chicken noodle soup has been purported to alleviate symptoms of the common cold and to improve digestion. Deemed as a comfort food by many, it is even said to "warm the soul." But did you know that it may help you stay hydrated during exercise? The results of a study published in the November 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
indicate that it might.
Nineteen college-age subjects underwent three testing sessions, each separated by at least one week, during which a different liquid, (chicken noodle soup, water, and a commercially-prepared carbohydrate-electrolyte drink) was consumed 45 minutes prior to exercise (90 minutes of steady-state exercise followed by a 5 minute rest and then participation in a physical performance task). Fluid balance during the exercise was improved after 355 ml (1 1/2 cups) of chicken noodle soup was consumed in comparison to the trials during which either water or the carbohydrate-electrolyte drink was consumed. The enhanced fluid balance associated with the soup consumption was achieved through an increased rate of water intake ad libitum (i.e., as one so wishes) during exercise and a decreased amount of water lost in urine.
The investigators noted that a higher plasma osmolality occurred with the consumption of the chicken noodle soup, which has a greater electrolyte concentration (sodium content) compared to water. They state that the higher plasma osmolality was the driving force behind the greater water intake ad libitum, which in turn, led to the improved fluid balance. In addition, the researchers sited findings of previous research that indicate when fluids with high electrolyte concentrations (such as chicken noodle soup) are consumed before exercise, the body conserves the ingested water during the physical activity. This fluid retention contributes to improved fluid balance.
The investigators of the current study did not note an effect on physical performance when chicken noodle soup was consumed compared to the water and carbohydrate-electrolyte drink trials. However, they suggest that the greater water intake and subsequent improved fluid balance may postpone the onset of exercise-induced dehydration during an extended exercise session and/or physical activity in a hot and humid environment. The researchers conclude that chicken noodle soup is an acceptable alternative for improving hydration status during aerobic exercise.
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 41, Number 11, November 2009, pp .2017-2025, "Effect of Preexercise Electrolyte Ingestion on Fluid Balance in Men and Women," Johannsen, N.M. et al,.
Nourishing Traditions, 2001, Fallon, S.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2005, Murray, M.
Labels: athletic performance, chicken noodle soup, fluid balance, high electrolyte concentration, water intake