Digital Image by Anthony Johnson copyright © nrlphotos.com: Nigel Plum : 2015 NYC  Round 8 - Penrith Panthers vs Cronulla Sharks at Pepper Stadium, Sunday April 26th 2015

Rather this being a recipe involving your favourite stone fruit, veteran Panthers forward Nigel Plum has instead credited his gluten-free diet as the reason behind his recent vitality.

In his final season in the NRL and with 150 games in sight, Plum shifted to a gluten-free lifestyle in the off-season to help combat the pain in his reconstructed ankles.

While back spasms kept him out the Panthers' 20-0 loss to Melbourne, Plum maintained his diet is "working wonders" for his rejuvenated body.

Joking that not much else could go wrong with him, considering his wretched run of injuries over the course of his career, Plum took advice from the club doctor to make the change.

"Because I have Chron's disease he told me there was research out there to say that gluten can cause pain in the joints for no reason. We trialled [the diet] and the pain went away," Plum said.

"I started the diet just before our last trial. I pulled out of playing because I was in too much pain. I trained all January in pain hoping it would just go away but it didn't so I tried having no gluten for three weeks and it worked well so I've stuck to it.

"It was pretty tough to start with. Dinner was pretty much gluten-free anyway because I was always eating salads or veggies but the hardest part for me was [not eating] the bread. There's gluten-free bread but it doesn't taste very nice."

Adding his diet hasn't troubled him throughout his 11-year career in the NRL, Plum lamented the loss of foods eaten in seasons past.

"There's no more Macca's or Hungry Jacks drive-through on the way home any more. Every now and then I delve into it and break it but I guess the benefit I'm feeling from not having it is what is keeping me going," Plum said.

"We want to do what we want to do so you have to do it. I've always been pretty good with my diet, but I guess I ate a lot of sandwiches so that's been the hardest thing to get off but generally I've been pretty good. 

"I do miss my hamburger with the lot though but every now and again that one comes out. I guess the older I get the better I'm getting from a body point of view anyway - and I think getting a good life balance outside of footy is really helping it."
 

This article first appeared on nrl.com