“Mum, can I have some ice cream this morning?”
“Of course not. How about some sugar-coated cereal instead?”
For decades, giving children ice cream for breakfast has been frowned upon, to say the least.
However, recent buzz in the nutritional sphere centers around an intriguing premise that calls this into question: Can starting your day with a scoop of ice cream enhance cognitive performance?
How did we get from eating ice cream for breakfast being seen as ‘unhealthy’, to having it as a food item that enhances brain function?
A study by Professor Yoshihiko Koga of Kyorin University led to a story on the Japanese site.
The findings of this study traveled far and wide across the realms of the internet to reveal this interesting fact: an ice cream breakfast may be the secret to increased brain activity.
Chocolate? Vanilla? Choose Your Brain-Enhancing Flavor
According to the study, participants who indulged in the sugary breakfast exhibited quicker response times and heightened brainwave activity compared to those consuming conventional breakfasts.
But ice cream? Really?
If you are under 18, you are probably excited.
But if you are in your late 20s and older, you were—and probably are—skeptical about the study and its findings. After all, you grew up being told that sugar was bad for your brain.
Well, for full transparency, it was noted that this research was reportedly conducted in collaboration with an undisclosed confectionery company. However, this enticing premise soon caught the attention of the English media, with The Telegraph spotlighting the story.
The Tokyo Test
Yoshihiko Koga, a distinguished professor at Kyorin University, conducted research indicating that individuals consuming ice cream right after waking up showcased enhanced alertness and improved mental performance compared to those who didn’t.
The Method And Results
Participants in Koga’s study were directed to eat ice cream immediately upon waking.
Following this, their cognitive skills were evaluated through computer-based tasks.
Interestingly, ice cream consumers not only displayed better task execution but also quicker reaction times.
To discern if these results were influenced merely by the cold temperature, the experiment was replicated using cold water.
While there was a slight boost in alertness for the cold water group, the enhancement was more pronounced with ice cream.
In the round of ice cream versus cold water, ice cream emerged as a clear winner.
Breakfast: To Eat Or Not To Eat
Katie Barfoot, an expert in nutritional psychology from Reading University, has articulated that starting the day with food generally can lead to heightened alertness.
But high glucose content, like that found in ice cream, can potentially bolster cognitive capabilities.
Actually, not yet.
Katie said, “This, however, does not condone eating dessert for breakfast.”
Instead, she advocates for a comprehensive study contrasting high- and low-glucose foods to truly understand the effect of ice cream on brain activity.
The Sugary Caveat
However, before making ice cream a breakfast staple, it’s essential to acknowledge the flip side.
Multiple studies emphasize sugar’s long-term detrimental effects. Continuous intake can elevate depression risks, diminish overall brain performance, and amplify Alzheimer’s susceptibility.
Rafi Letzter wrote an article for Business Insider and challenged the study. He stressed that consistently indulging in sweet treats for breakfast might not be the wisest choice for those seeking cognitive longevity.
Critical Evaluation Of Studies
In an era flooded with new studies every day, discernment becomes imperative. When interpreting research, consider the publishing organization’s reputation, the credibility of its scientists, and potential biases.
In Koga’s case, while the researcher and institution appear credible, the lack of comprehensive data, especially in English, challenges a thorough evaluation.
So, while the idea of ice cream for breakfast is tempting, it’s best to listen to Rafi and approach such claims with caution.
It might be unwise to make it a daily habit, given the known ill effects of sugar. However, for those sporadic days demanding heightened mental alertness, maybe indulging in a small scoop might not be that harmful.
“I’ll just have eggs with a side of vanilla ice cream, please!”
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.