When Mark Teixeira met with trainer Ben Prentiss last year, he was ready to do something drastic.

Pinpointing the issue

"In my everyday life, I was fine," Teixeira says. "But I was injured for all of 2013, and had a lot of nagging injuries in 2014. My joints were sore and my body wouldn't heal as quickly as it used to."

After Teixeira recounted the injuries he'd had throughout his career, Prentiss was quick to deliver a verdict. "The first thing he said is, “It sounds like you have a very inflammatory response in your body, and the easiest thing you can do is go gluten-free and dairy-free to get the inflammation out of your body,’” Teixeira recalls. “That was all I needed to hear."

Strong stats

The improvement was dramatic, and fast. "Because of my new diet and training regimen, I lost 15 pounds of fat and added 15 pounds of muscle. That's almost unheard of, and at 35 years old it's really tough to do,” Teixeira says. “That was the immediate 3- or 4-month response that I got to the diet.”

"'You have to break through the idea of food as comfort. Your body thanks you when you start eating well.'"

More importantly, the changes he made paid off on the baseball diamond. "I had the best season I'd had in seven years. I felt energetic. I didn't have the nagging aches and pains I'd had the two previous years, and my strength was there. I didn't need to take anti-inflammatories. There was an immediate impact from the changes I made."

The gluten- and dairy-free diet even helped him get the most from his new workout. "For the average person, if you just followed the diet you'd see amazing results, but as an athlete you have to put in the training. This diet allows me to work out harder and longer."

SETTING THE BENCHMARK: Teixeira drops by the dugout to share some motivation with boys and girls learning the power of teamwork from the Harlem RBI program.

Staying in the zone

Though gluten-free products are much more common than they were even a few years ago, that doesn't mean Teixeira doesn't face challenges in sticking to his diet. "When I can pick out every single thing myself, there are no problems. The problems arise when I'm on the road," he says. When his only options are fast food fare, he chooses sandwiches. "I take the bun off and have the patty." He also snacks on dates, avocados, sweet potatoes and nuts. 

Teixeira says that, though it's not always easy (he also limits refined sugar and processed foods), he's happy to stick to his "no fun" diet. "You have to break through the idea of food as comfort. Your body thanks you when you start eating well."