We all want to perform at our best and take care of our bodies.

For some of us, our eating habits prevent us from doing so. As we become more independent, we need to learn how to nurture our bodies and minds.

By cleaning up my diet, I was able to prevent acne, obesity, brain fog, fatigue and depression. But I am not the only one.

“Having a good diet plays a crucial role in being quick on the court,” says freshman tennis player Maddi Page. “When I eat healthier for a few days, I feel faster and gain more confidence .”

Inadequate quality of food causes athletes to feel sluggish and weak. It negatively affects coordination and concentration, according to some students’ experience.

“Once I ate 10 pieces of Chicken McNuggets, large fries and a McFlurry before a practice, which resulted in me being fatigued, having low energy and throwing up,” says Paly varsity water polo player, Charles Mitz.

Eating fats and fish can help avoid this outcome and improve performance. For instance, salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and support optimal cellular function, according to nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge.

Additionally, omega-3s assist with protein synthesis which contributes to muscle tone and strength, according to physiologist Helen Kollias.

Because omega-3s are essential for cognitive and behavioral functions, according to the National Library of Medicine, medical professionals recommended omega 3 fatty acids and a ketogenic diet for my brain’s health when I had a concussion.

The ketogenic diet reduces inflammation by limiting carbohydrate intake and fat consumption. Consequently, the body reaches ketosis, a state when the body uses fats instead of carbs for energy.

My diet emphasized a high dosage of omega 3 fatty acids, which decreased various types of inflammation in my whole body such as bloating, acne and brain swelling.

Nutrition governs our energy production, and a deeply rooted misconception is that we need carbs for fuel, according to Mark Hyman, functional medicine pioneer and physician.

“You get all the energy you need from eating fruits and other whole foods, and your brain can get energy from fats too,” Hyman says. “In fact, it runs better on fats.”

Our bodies benefit more from fats like avocado, nuts, fish and olive oil. These foods are loaded with nutrients and come with health benefits such as reduced brain fog and lower risk of various diseases like depression, dementia and heart disease, according to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“When I avoid sugar and eat more protein and fats in the morning, like bacon and eggs, I can make better decisions, focus at school and my energy lasts longer in track,” junior Ellinor Hjelm says.

Eating the right fats, instead of wheat, dairy and sugar, does not only affect health and energy, but also helps the skin.

“When I cut out processed foods, sugar and dairy, my skin got significantly clearer,” freshman Alli Miller says.

High levels of A1 casein, an inflammatory molecule found in dairy, can contribute to metabolic suppression, weight gain and worse acne, according to naturopathic doctor Lara Briden.

Having nutritional balance has been critical for my quality of life. Food can be medicine or poison, and the choice is ours.