Whenever exam time approached as a child, my Mum would always amp up her enthusiasm about three things:
- Salmon ('That Omega 3 will get the brain juice flowing')
- Bassetts soft and chewy vitamins ('The best line of defense against a cold is offence')
- Spinach ('If it's good enough for Popeye….')
Of course, as us natural brainiacs will know, you're either born with the gift of intellect, or you're not. But, much like my mother, I'm always up for trying out any food that is said to improve my mental agility.
All in the name of research, you know.
Well, it just so happens that a Japanese scientist is now saying that eating ice cream for breakfast will help people's mental performance.
Yoshihiko Koga, a professor at Tokyo's Kyorin University, has carried out a series of clinical trials in which volunteers were required to eat ice cream immediately after waking up before having to complete several mental exercises on a computer.
This might sound like all our dreams have been answered at once but surely freezing-cold ice cream first thing in the morning is just as shocking to the system as a cold shower, right?
So far, this is not a test we'd like to take part in.
However, when Koga compared his findings to a controlled group of subjects who hadn't eaten ice cream, he found that those who had consumed the sweet treat had faster reaction times and improved information-processing capabilities, according to website Excite News.
During the tests, Koga monitored the participants' brain activity which revealed an increase in high-frequency alpha waves, related to higher levels of alertness and reduced mental irritation.
I know what you're thinking. 'Surely cold ice cream has the same effect as drinking an icy-cold glass of water? It's just a shock.'
Well, Koga tried this test out too and found that although volunteers did show an increased level of mental capacity, it was significantly lower that the results of those who ate ice cream.
Professor Koga is now continuing his research to find out whether there is a specific ingredient or defining link between ice cream and mental boosts.
However, skeptics claim that it's not the ice cream that improves mental ability but the fact it provides additional levels of glucose that help the brain function and could have the ability to trigger the 'happy zones' of the brain.
While we might not be convinced to give up our bowl of porridge oats and buttery wholemeal toast for a tub of Ben&Jerry's or sorbet, just yet – besides, we doubt ice cream for breakfast is a good longterm alternative – we must admit, we are quite tempted.
After all, it beats the taste of a wheatgrass shake in the morning.