The research comes from Japan
via Flickr user (cc) Ee Vonn Tan
It’s not uncommon for the average person to break their dietary monotony by having breakfast for dinner. However, few would ever publicly admit to eating their dessert for breakfast. Replacing the most important meal of the day with empty calories would certainly lead to a day fueled by guilt and anchored by bloat. But a new study suggests that eating a scoop of ice cream the moment you wake up can yield some surprisingly positive results.
Yoshihiko Koga, a professor at Tokyo’s Kyorin University, carried out a series of clinical trials in which participants were forced to eat ice cream first thing after waking up. After consuming a scoop of frozen delight, they were administered a series of computer tests. Koga discovered that ice-cream eaters had an increase in high-frequency alpha waves which are associated with lowered stress levels and heightened alertness.
via Flickr user (cc) Jenny
Koga ran additional tests where the ice cream was replaced with glasses of cold water to see if temperature shock created the increase in mental performance. But the ice-cream eaters still performed better on mental tests. Koga has yet to pinpoint a specific chemical in ice cream that triggers the mental boost, but some believe it could be something as simple as the mood elevation caused by a sweet treat.
“A possible explanation [for increased alertness]... is the simple presence of consuming breakfast versus not consuming breakfast,” Katie Barfoot, a Nutritional Psychology Doctoral Researcher at Reading University, told The Telegraph. “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 dessert for breakfast.” Plus, as the Business Insider points out, “the sugar in our diets is far worse than fat” and is a major cause of “weight gain and obesity.”
So if you’re looking for an additional kick of alertness and an overall sense of chill in the AM, why not try adding just a little ice cream to your daily morning meal? A small scoop of strawberry could really jazz up your smoothie. Or a dab of vanilla may take your waffles and mental response time to the next level. But really, who needs an excuse to eat ice cream? If it’s good for your brain or not, there’s no need to drum up an excuse just to enjoy a scoop.
[Ed.: The Kyorin University study was originally reported by the Japanese website Excite News in November last year. That page has since been deleted. It was originally reported in the English language by Telegraph. Furthermore, it was reported by Business Insider that the study had been funded by an “unnamed sweets company,” which may have contributed to its positive results. Finally, as pointed out in the Telegraph article, if the study happened at all (it has never been independently verified apart from the Excite News report), it’s possible that the brain activity boost after ice cream versus just having cold water could have something to do with the fact that the test subject ate any breakfast at all. Don’t let any of this stop you from eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey at 7 a.m., though!]