Study under review: Breakfast consumption has no effect on neuropsychological functioning in children: a repeated measures clinical trial
Childhood is an important time in the cognitive development of the human brain and is a key stage in the establishment of adult cognitive abilities. There is therefore considerable scientific interest in determining a child’s optimal dietary requirements that will enhance and assist cognitive development. Specifically, this includes parameters such as the quantity, quality, timing, and macronutrient components of every meal, which in theory could contribute to how a child’s brain develops. In particular, medical and government healthy diet guidelines suggest having breakfast first thing in the morning. Consumption of a nutritious breakfast is recommended as this has been positively associated with benefits on the physical and mental status of children and adults.
Several researchers, however, have suggested that fasting bestows even greater benefits on whole systems within the body. Fasting is a form of calorie restriction and may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as improve cognitive functioning and mood. As a metabolic challenge, fasting forces cells to use fatty acids from adipose tissue as an alternative energy source to glycogen stores.
The breakdown of fatty acids into molecules known as ketones is associated with many beneficial effects. Research shows that ketones boost energy levels in the brain and appear to modulate many signaling pathways that can prevent cellular dysfunction. In addition, animal data has also shown that neurodegeneration may even be prevented. However, the question remains whether fasting in children would improve cognitive function.
Previous analyses of academic performance markers in children have several shortcomings, including differences in parameters such as calories, volume of food provided, and macronutrient composition of breakfasts studied. A recently published study sought to clarify this in the form of a crossover clinical trial that included an extensive array of neuropsychological examinations.
To support cognitive development during childhood, breakfast consumption is generally recommended by most medical and government guidelines. However, fasting in theory also has many benefits and it is unclear whether breakfast or fasting should be recommended for children.
Other Articles in Issue #23 (September 2016)
Gut bugs and arthritis
Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut”, which might be close to the truth. This research looked at a type of gut bacteria that may help protect against rheumatoid arthritis
HMB + ATP = huge muscles?
HMB (short for β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate) has shown promise in limited trials looking at its free acid form. Could combining this form with ATP be a recipe for accelerated muscle gain?
Rematch: EPA vs. DHA for cardiovascular risk factors
NERD #21 already examined the effect of EPA vs. DHA in very high doses. This randomized trial answers whether normal doses of either fatty acid could help inflammation and blood lipids.
A review of carnitine and weight loss
The amino acid l-carnitine has been studied for weight loss, with confusingly mixed results. Researchers pooled previous studies together in this meta-analysis to get a clearer picture.
Interview: Pablo Sanchez-Soria, PhD
Toxins: a term that's incredibly overused by people who typically don't understand the concepts very well. Dr. Sanchez-Soria is a toxicologist who deals with toxins and disease on a daily basis. Dr. Pablo Sanchez-Soria is a Toxicologist at the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, L.L.C. (CTEH®). Dr. Sanchez-Soria has experience in the fields of human and environmental toxicology, as well as molecular and systems toxicology with an emphasis in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Have the fructose alarm bells rang too soon?
Fructose is both highly controversial and highly researched. Yet until this recent trial, it hadn’t been compared to other sugars for inflammation and intestinal impacts.
All the data on resveratrol for cardiovascular health
With 21 existing randomized trials looking at resveratrol’s effect on cardiovascular health markers, this meta-analysis was needed to summarize the data and get a sense of how much, if any, it may help.