The ice cream diet is one of the latest weight loss gimmicks to emerge recently. Other than failure, one of the so-called diet’s risks could be “brain freeze,” the headache that results from eating ice cream too fast. Brain freeze has been in the news recently because scientists have figured out why it happens. The knowledge could lead to help for people suffering from migraines.
The brain freeze mystery
What causes brain freeze, otherwise known as ice cream headache, has been a mystery until now. Scientists used to think that rapid cooling and re-warming of blood vessels in the sinuses caused the sharp, shooting pain. But new research from the Harvard Medical School shows that the ice cream headache originates deep in the brain.
The brain on defense
Researchers had volunteers sip ice-cold water through a straw so the liquid would contact the roof of their mouth (upper palate). Blood flow in their brains was monitored using a transcranial Doppler test, an ultrasound diagnostic tool. They found that brain freeze is the result of a sudden increase in blood flow through the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. As soon as the artery constricted, the brain-freeze pain sensation wore off.
It turns out that brain freeze may be one of the brain’s defense mechanisms. When the head is rapidly cooled by too much ice cream, the anterior cerebral artery dilates to flood the brain with warm blood. Because the skull is rigid, more blood in the brain increases pressure and voila, ice cream headache.
Hope for migraine sufferers
Lead study author Dr. Jorge Serrador said that the mechanism of brain freeze may be related to what triggers migraines. Developing medications that prevent or reverse dilation of blood vessels (vasodilation) could help treat migraines and other types of headache, including the side effects of a traumatic brain injury.
The Ice Cream Diet
Your brain may be frozen if you fall for the Ice Cream Diet. In theory, eating a cup of ice cream every day reduces cravings and increases your calcium intake. The gimmick is based on recent studies suggesting that calcium promotes weight loss because fat cells in the body expand when calcium levels are low.
Ice cream calories and fat
In reality, ice cream is one of the last foods to consider if you want to lose weight. Most ice creams pack 300 calories and 20 grams of fat or more into just a half cup. Here’s a list of the calories in a half cup of the most fattening ice creams available, courtesy of Newsweek:
1. Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter – 360 calories, 24 grams of fat
2. Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby – 330 calories, 20 grams of fat
3. Häagen-Dazs Butter Pecan – 310 calories, 23 grams of fat
4. Sheer Bliss Pomegranate with chocolate chips – 320 calories, 20 grams fat
5. Ben and Jerry’s Vermonty Python – 300 calories, 19 grams of fat