What is a Brain Freeze?



Learn all about brain freeze, why it happens and how to prevent it!

When Merrin was little, she was drinking a very cold cherry and peach smoothie and yelped out, “brain freeze.”

We sympathized for a few seconds, then went on with our business. But not too long after, Pearl turned to me and said,

“What is a brain freeze?”

I told her that it was when the blood vessels squeezed tight and swelled up. She wanted more information. What are blood vessels, for instance? You have to love kids and their curiosity!

Blood vessels are like garden hoses that are all over your body. They carry blood with nutrients, oxygen, white blood cells, and carbon dioxide and deliver them to all the different parts of your body. It is the nourishment your muscles, brain, and heart need to keep you healthy. Unlike a garden hose, these blood vessels can change size. So if you eat something warm, they can get bigger, and when you eat something cold, they can get small and make it a little harder for the blood to travel. It doesn’t last that long, and it’s not dangerous. 

Brain freezes only last a minute or so, but many things happen in that short minute. When something cold touches your palate (the roof of your mouth), the cold sensation will trigger nerves that control blood flow to your brain. This trigger will cause blood vessels in your brain to swell up, which in turn causes the head to ache – known as the “brain freeze.”

A helpful hint: Eating colder foods a little slower may help prevent the brain freeze and allow you to enjoy your food a little more.

Since we are talking about the brain and kids are heading back to school very soon, perhaps, they could use some extra brainpower. The foods below are packed with nutrients to make your brain and body happy and help protect the brain from oxidative stress or free radicals in the body that can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s; therefore, stock your pantry with these foods and get your brain sharper!


An added bonus: it may improve learning capacity and motor skills (great to throw into a breakfast smoothie!).

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds have a good amount of vitamin E; there is a correlation between higher levels of vitamin e in our body with a decrease in cognitive decline.


The yolks are loaded with vitamin d. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in vitamin d, which may lead to various diseases; however, concerning brain function, vitamin d helps break down the characteristic plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is boosted with Omega 3s that promote the anti-inflammatory pathways in the body.


Avocados are mono-saturated fats which help promote healthy blood flow.


The exact shape of the human brain and complete with omega 3 fatty acids, walnuts are essential for optimal brain function.


dr. heather

Thank you Unsplash for the image

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