Summer is finally here, which means it's ice cream season. But sometimes, while you're devouring a sundae, you become parched af. It got me wondering—why does this thirst come on so strong after eating ice cream?

The reason why ice cream makes us thirsty is similar to how other sweets make us thirsty. Turns out, there are scientific reasons why cookies are paired with milk and why ice cream is sometimes paired with soda (aka a trusty rootbeer float) or even a glass of water.

Thirst Levels

chocolate, cream, ice, ice cream, cake
Rianna Lloyd

When you consume sweet foods, sugar enters the bloodstream and begins to circulate through the body. These sugar particles suck the water from your body’s cells, depleting supplies.

Your body’s cells then send chemical messages to the brain indicating that it’s time to drink fluids. Your brain works in a feedback loop, telling you when you need water most. When the brain senses sugar overloads, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus triggers thirst.

salt, condiment, chocolate, sweet
Angela Kerndl

Ice cream often has a ton of sodium. Hmm, why is there salt in my favorite sweet? It's because salt allows you to bring the mixture of ingredients in ice cream below the freezing point of water without turning it into an ice cube.

Just like with sugar, as salt is absorbed into your bloodstream, your blood will become more "concentrated". The hypothalamus will then react the same way and tell you to drink water asap.


cream, chocolate, ice, milk, dairy product, sweet, coffee, caramel, wafer
Rachel Kalichman

The easiest advice to give you would be to keep a water bottle with you whenever you plan on enjoying a favorite summer treat. Another tip is to make your own ice cream so you can control the amount of sodium going in. If you're trying to wean off the sugar and sodium, though, you can try making frozen fruit pops as a healthier, less dehydrating alternative.

Next time you hit up DQ, bring some water with you. Why does ice cream make us so thirsty? Now you know that it's all in your head, or the hypothalamus, to be exact.