The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, August 13, 2019 1:00 am

Ice cream good way to brighten mood

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

As I sat there on my couch, finishing off a pint of my favorite ice cream, I only felt a twinge of regret once between spoonful after spoonful of delicious, sweet goodness.

I am a year-round eater of ice cream. However, summer is my season to indulge on the frozen treat.

Summer and ice cream just go together and it reminds me of my childhood, sitting on my front porch enjoying an ice cream cone.

However, I also find myself eating ice cream at different moments of my life, especially when I am stressed out.

And I'm not alone.

According to experts, one reason why we rely on ice cream during these low times is because it stirs up nostalgia.

Not to mention that ice cream has two ingredients – fat and sugar – that we are wired to have a reward response to.

There's a reason why ice cream is considered a comfort food. It is a fatty food and fatty foods tend to help soothe us when we are stressed, overworked or sad.

How many times have we watched a movie or TV show when a female character (and it is almost always a woman) dives into a bowl or carton of ice cream because her heart has been broken. Sometimes the only men a girl can depend on are her daddy and Ben & Jerry.

But it looks like the heartbroken may be on to something by seeking therapy in the freezer.

According to a study led by Lukas Van Oudenhove at the University of Leuven, Belgium, researchers studied subjects' brain activity during times of sadness. The subjects were given either saline or a fatty solution and researchers watched how the brain images changed when the fat solution was introduced into the stomach.

The study showed that those subjects given a fatty solution reported to be 50% happier and upbeat when shown sad images or hearing emotionally dreary music. That apparently is about as much as any prescription antidepressant can achieve, experts say.

Considering we live in a time when depression and being stressed out from work or family is at an all -time high, it makes sense that people are turning to comfort food as one alternative to help take off the edge.

About 58% of Americans say work is a significant source of stress. In addition, an estimated 17.3 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2017, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.

With all that, one would think that U.S. residents are buying ice cream by the truckloads. Well, we are, but apparently the U.S. is the second-highest ice cream consuming country in the world with residents eating an average of 5.5 gallons per person a year. New Zealand is No. 1 with 7.5 gallons per person.

But 87% of Americans admit to having ice cream in their freezer right now.

I know I do.

And just when you think eating ice cream can't get any better – it does.

Parents if you have a child getting ready to head back to school this week, you may want to reconsider what you feed them for breakfast.

A professor at Tokyo's Kyorin University conducted a trial that links eating ice cream in the morning to positive effects on the brain's performance. He claims that eating ice-cold food immediately after waking up shocks the brain into an active state, which increases alertness and mental capacity.

Ice cream not only improves your mood, but apparently it also can make you smarter.

So forget that bowl of cereal, moms and dads; a bowl of ice cream may be the new breakfast of champions.


Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at or call 461-8304.

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