It’s good news for all ice cream lovers, and an utter nightmare for nutritionists, as a Japanese professor discovered that having ice cream for breakfast can improve your alertness and mental performance.
After carrying out a series of clinical trials, Professor Yoshihiko Koga from Tokyo’s Kyorin University has discovered that eating ice cream immediately after waking up helps you to process information better and react faster.
For the purpose of the study, Koga analyzed two groups of participants: the first group ate ice cream immediately after waking up, while the other didn’t – after which, the participants were put through a series of mental exercises on a computer.
The group which ate ice cream exhibited faster reaction times, and better information-processing capabilities, and their brain activity showed an increase in high-frequency alpha waves, which are associated with elevated levels of alertness and reduced mental irritation.
Koga also examined the possibility that the subjects’ reactions were merely a result of the brain being shocked into higher levels of alertness by the low temperature of the ice cream. For this purpose, he repeated the experiment with cold water, instead of ice cream.
As the results showed, the participants who drank cold water did exhibit a degree of increased alertness and mental capacity, but the results weren’t as satisfying as those from the group which had ice cream in the morning.
The next step for Koga is to determine the link between the mental boost caused by ice cream and a specific ingredient. Alternatively, the explanation may lie in the fact that ice cream is a treat which triggers positive emotions and added energy.
Koga’s findings have been met with skepticism by British nutritionists. Katie Barfood, a Nutritional Psychology Doctoral Researcher at Reading University states that a possible explanation for the cognitive boost is “the simple presence of consuming breakfast vs. not consuming breakfast.”
“Our brain needs glucose to function, and a high glucose meal will aid mental capacity considerably compared to a fasted brain,” she explains.
“This, however, does not condone eating dessert for breakfast. A study which explores the interaction between consumption of low and high GI foods, whilst including a fasted group, would establish a better understanding of this increased mental capacity.”
Have you had ice cream for breakfast? Would you have ice cream for breakfast? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!