A Japanese professor has made a delightful discovery, that having ice cream for breakfast can help improve your alertness and mental performance. Fantastic news for all you ice cream lovers out there, but perhaps, not such good news for nutritionists!
Professor Yoshihiko Koga from Tokyo’s Kyorin University made the discovery after a series of clinical trials. He discovered that eating ice cream as soon as you wake up can help you to react faster and process information more clearly.
Professor Koga got together two groups of participants to analyze for the study. One group ate ice cream immediately after waking up, while the other group did not. The participants were then put through several mental exercises on a computer.
The group that had eaten ice cream for breakfast displayed much faster reaction times, and a far higher capacity to process information. The ones that ate ice cream showed a rise in high-frequency alpha waves. The alpha waves are associated with lower mental irritability and elevated levels of alertness.
To make sure the participant’s reactions were not just a result of the brain being shocked into higher alertness by the coldness of the ice cream, Koga went further. The process with the participants was repeated, this time using cold water instead of ice cream.
The results of this further testing did show that the participants who drank cold water displayed some increase in alertness and mental capacity. The results did show an increase in alertness, however, not as substantial as those from the group that ate ice cream.
Professor Koga’s next step is to make the link between the mental boost caused by eating ice cream and any specific ingredient. However, the answers may lie in the simple fact that we see ice cream as a treat. We associate treats as a positive thing, which could trigger positive emotions when we eat it.
Koga’s findings have been met with some skepticism. Katie Barfoot, Nutritional Psychology Doctoral Researcher at Reading University in England, stated that the simple explanation for the boost is “the simple presence of consuming breakfast vs. not consuming breakfast.”
She went on to explain “Our brain needs glucose to function, and a high glucose meal will aid mental capacity considerably compared to a fasted brain,”
“This, however, does not condone eating a dessert for breakfast. A study which explores the interaction between consumption of low and high GI foods, while including a fasted group, would establish a better understanding of this increased mental capacity.”