How does the brain react when you eat cold food?

Suddenly eating cold food can make your brain temporarily 'freeze', causing headaches, aches and pains. This can happen when you drink ice cold water or eat ice cream… This will go away on its own after a few seconds, but will your health be affected in the long run? 

1. How to recognize a 'frozen' brain

This happens after you drink an iced drink, eat ice cream, or inhale something very cold. When the brain is frozen, you will feel a sudden and numbing pain in the front part of your head. The pain lasts only a few seconds, sometimes up to 1 or 2 minutes in some cases. People often experience this when the weather is hot and they eat or drink something very cold.

Picture 1 of How does the brain react when you eat cold food?

2. The cause of brain freeze is still a mystery

When you consume something cold, or breathe cold air, the temperature in the back of your throat at the junction of the internal carotid and anterior cerebral arteries is altered. According to neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin, the brain freezes itself as a protective measure when it senses a change. The sudden onset of cold causes the dilation and contraction of the arteries, which the brain interprets as a signal of pain.

3. Compare brain freeze with migraine

Research shows that people with migraines are more likely to experience a brain freeze. However, the biggest and most important difference between these 2 types is that the brain freeze lasts only a short period of time and will go away on its own without the need for medication. Migraines not only last longer, but they also cause unpleasant symptoms like nausea.

Picture 2 of How does the brain react when you eat cold food?

4. You can 'treat' brain freeze quite easily

Brain freeze doesn't last long, but there are ways to make it end faster. The first is that you drink something warm or at room temperature. The second way is to press the tongue against the roof of the mouth, the heat in the tongue will transfer to your sinuses and warm the nerves that are causing the brain to freeze. Keep your tongue there until you feel the pain go away.

5. You should actively avoid this phenomenon

Although not dangerous, brain freeze still causes discomfort for us. To prevent this, you should not eat frozen drinks right away, let them sit for a while at room temperature and then eat them slowly. If you have to go outside in the cold, wear a mask or pull a scarf over your nose to block the air.