The fire and fury of Trump’s diet

As a physician, I am totally disgusted by what President Donald Trump eats — and you should be too. His standing order on Trump Force One is reminiscent of a fast-food bacchanalia, comprised of “two Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted” according to the recently released book by his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and top aide David Bossie.

But it doesn’t stop there: Trump has done away with any semblance of healthy eating and allowed his id to guide his dietary decisions. The authors go on to write, “On Trump Force One there were four major food groups: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke.”

Much like the rest of his presidency, Trump’s dietary choices are unrestrained and rushed. Rife with calories, sugar, and fat, these foods are naturally appealing and inherently unhealthful.

Consequently, as a physician, I am genuinely concerned about his health. His dietary choices, although embodying a dietary Americana, are the building blocks for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and so many other diseases that litter our healthcare system.

We should learn from experience. Wolfing down burgers with ease, former President Bill Clinton also shared a similar hunger for the unhealthiest of culinary options, which led him to have crushing chest pain from severe heart disease. It wasn’t until 2010, after having a quadruple bypass and two cardiac stents, that he experienced a dietary revelation and became vegan, a dietary practice that has been shown to reverse heart disease.

Not surprisingly, President Trump also puts himself at risk for heart disease. During the campaign, the assessment of his health that Trump revealed to the public was the letter his gastroenterologist produced. In it, we are told his “cardiovascular status is excellent” but paradoxically he is also on “aspirin daily and a low dose statin.” As a physician, I typically put someone on an aspirin and a statin if they are at risk for having (or have had) a heart attack, stroke or significant heart disease like Clinton had.

These medications carry their own set of risks, like bleeding and muscle cramps, and would only be prescribed if their benefits outweighed the risks, suggesting that he has a good reason to be on it, which isn’t surprising given his diet.

Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. Although we don’t know the reason he is on these medications, we do know that a single fatty meal can negatively affect arterial function and, when repeated over a lifetime, can lead to heart disease.

And taking the medications doesn’t guarantee total immunity from disease. In a major study using the same statin that Trump takes, rosuvastatin, those taking the medication continued to have heart attacks and strokes, albeit at a significantly lower rate had they not been on the medication.

His diet could put him at risk for a panoply of other diseases. When discussing Trump’s proclivity for McDonald’s sandwiches, Lewandowski comically told CNN that “he never ate the bread, which is the important part.” Despite not eating the bread, Trump still ate an uncomfortable amount of red meat and fried fish, which have been shown to increase the risk of colon cancer and heart failure, respectively. Not to mention, increased diet soda consumption has been tied metabolic syndrome and diabetes. What Trump doesn’t eat is just as dangerous as what he does eat. Photos abound of him eating fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and pizza, but nobody has found a photo of him eating a fruit or a vegetable.

Who knows? Maybe he eats his carrots in secrecy, but something tells me that its highly unlikely that Trump is part of the 9 percent of the American populace that meets the federal recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake.

Trump’s cuisine is concerning on many levels. As a society, we go to great lengths to protect our president from those who wish to do him harm, yet he is allowed to eat the unhealthiest foods a society can concoct. He is surrounded by a cadre of secret service agents at all times but is left open to his own dietary self-destruction.

Trump’s diet, which is so deftly American, may be his tragic flaw. Worse, as president, Trump is the leader for a nation, setting the plate-quite literally-for what the rest of America could be eating. Trump could use the opportunity to eat an apple and thereby inspire others to do the same. Yet, he doesn’t.

Looking at it another way, Trump may be the reflection of an American populace that we have long-ignored, a mirror of the average American. What we see on his plate is what we’ve been eating all along. No matter how you look at it, Trump or not, the standard American diet leads to the standard American diseases — and that’s cause for concern.

Shivam Joshi is a nephrology fellow. He can be reached on Twitter @sjoshiMD and on Facebook

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