Do You Know Nutrition: How to avert brain freeze

By Phylis Canion
June 4, 2013 at 1:04 a.m.

Recently, I ate some healthy ice cream and got a terrible case of brain freeze. Can you please explain what causes brain freeze?

Brain freeze, referred to as sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, is a reaction triggered when something very cold, in your case the ice cream, comes into contact with the roof of the mouth before you swallow.

When something very cold, food or drink, touches the center of the palate, the cold temperature triggers nerves that control how much blood flows to the head. To heat up the brain again, the nerves respond by causing the blood vessels to swell, which causes the headache pain.

Even though this is referred to as brain freeze, nothing is really happening in the brain - it is all in the blood vessels of the head. This reaction from cold food usually lasts a minute or two, although it seems to last much longer, and the headache usually goes away on its own. To eliminate developing brain freeze, simply eating cold foods more slowly can help. You can also try warming that cold food or drink in the front of your mouth before swallowing.

Can you please explain why it is important for the body to have a balanced pH? My brother was recently diagnosed with cancer and was told he had a very acidic system. He has always been a very big meat eater and eats very few vegetables. I am not sure if I understand pH and what is considered balanced, so your help would be greatly appreciated.

Our body fluids' pH registers on a scale of 0.0 to 14.0. Seven is neither acid or alkaline but is considered neutral. The higher the number more than seven, the more alkaline it is. A pH level that is in the range from 0.0 to 7.0 is increasingly acidic. Acid that is introduced into the body through our diet is expelled through our kidneys, taking minerals along with it.

Minerals are needed to neutralize acids as they exit our system, so a depleted reserve of minerals can result in accumulated acidic toxins. Sugar, meat, dairy products and most refined grains have acidifying effects on our blood and tissues.

Acidic systems effects enzymatic reactions in the system and can leave the body dealing with a host of problems. It is important that we eat multiple servings of foods that have an alkalinizing effect such as fruits and green vegetables each day.

Although it might seem that citrus fruits would have an acidifying effect on the body, the citric acid they contain actually has an alkalinizing effect in the system. For a sample listing of acid and alkaline foods, go to and look under the category Did you Know.

Thought for the week: Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.

Next free nutrition class is Monday at the Organic Emporium in Victoria.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant; email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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