With midterms just around the corner it’s hard to keep our grades up when our heads are down; you know what it’s like to wake up with pen marks on your cheek and gibberish on your word documents from sleeping on your keyboard.

How is it even possible to stay awake and alert during rough times like these?

Besides making sure you’re managing time well, it is also important to make sure you eat the right foods. Your brain can’t function without the help of what you put in that information factory you call yourself!

The King of Caffeine is none other than coffee, but drinking too much coffee can take a toll on your health. People who drink coffee daily can develop a caffeine dependency and may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and fatigue.

Many people also tend to drink their coffee with sugary sweeteners and creamers. While some depend on a “sugar rush” to stay awake, elevated glucose levels can block the activity of an important neurotransmitter called orexin.

Orexin keeps your body awake and alert. A research team from Cambridge University found that the amino acids in egg whites stimulated orexin neurons as well as prevented glucose from blocking their signals.


Photos by Jamie Sembrano

Orexin not only helps you stay awake but also regulates your appetite. Balanced orexin levels leaves you less likely to overeat due to the satiated feeling it provides.

The best way to increase orexin production is to limit your glucose intake and take a healthy dosage of amino acids or amino acid-containing food.

Striving to think better on the spot? Stock up on aged cheese, smoked fish, and cured meats; these foods contain an amino acid known as tyramine which causes your adrenal glands to release a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, triggering our body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. This mechanism increases the amount of oxygen going to our brain, helping us think quicker and work more efficiently.

 There are many things we take for granted when it comes to the cause-and-effects of what we eat. Amino acids and neurotransmitters go hand in hand in making sure our brains are running at optimal speed and power. Instead of binging on coffee and sweets to get through a paper, try making these egg white bites.

The yummy smell of a healthy, home cooked meal will even stimulate your senses and encourage you to work harder!