You Are What You Eat: The Presidential Edition

A closer look at President Trump’s eating and exercise habits.

For someone who holds himself in as high regard as President Trump does, it’s a wonder he doesn’t take better care of his body.

We’ve written before about the science of his terrible sleep habits (sometimes only four hours a night), and how it may affect his job performance. But sleep isn’t the only pillar of well-being, so we took a closer look at President Trump’s nutrition and fitness, which play an important role in cognitive and physical performance.

Image courtesy of Flickr

Axios did a deep dive into Trump’s health habits in a piece titled Trump 101: He is Definitely Not a Health Nut, noting that his habits at 70 years old — the oldest sitting president in history — are like “a man who’s slept through the last 50 years of public-health warnings.” Though his diet has supposedly improved since he’s taken office, that follows years full of sugar and unhealthy fats.

Trump doesn’t drink or smoke, but apparently chows down on fast food and keeps “vanilla-flavored Keebler Vienna Fingers” stocked on his plane. One aide described how his “three staples” are Domino’s, KFC and McDonald’s. The New York Times reports that the White House kitchen has been restocked with Trump’s favorite plane snacks, including Lay’s potato chips. As to whether he’d ever snacked on healthier choices like fruits or nuts? “Never seen it,” an aide said.

Trans-fats (often found in fast food) and sugars (abundant in processed snacks like chips and cookies) aren’t exactly brain food. In fact, they may be the opposite. In this 2015 study, researchers found that men who had the highest amount of trans fat in their diet were 10% worse at remembering words compared to those adults who ate the least.

Too much sugar in our diets also may impair our short-and-long-term memories, and can make our brains less flexible, which essentially means we become worse at responding to new environments and thinking outside the box. In a 2015 study, mice who were on high sugar or high fat diets for six weeks couldn’t find their way out of their cages as well as mice on a healthier diet. Don’t forget the fact that sugar can put you on an energy rollercoaster that ends in an inevitable crash — not ideal for long, stressful days.

When it comes to exercise, Trump told Dr. Oz in the Fall that he doesn’t do it. He plays “the occasional round of golf,” including an outing last weekend, and even then, “mostly travels by cart.”

Exercise can help us live longer and reduce our likelihood of developing chronic illnesses. There’s also evidence that it can boost brainpower, and research suggests that being physically active throughout your life reduces your odds of developing dementia. Trump is an avid TV-watcher too, and while the rigors of his new role have evidently cut into his tube-time (according to The New York Times), by all accounts he’s still watching a fair amount of television, which one study found is associated with more depressive symptoms.

Trump, according to his biographer Michael D’Antonio, doesn’t believe that lifestyle decisions affect his health, fancying himself genetically “gifted.” But we’d probably all feel a bit better about his ability to rise to the challenges facing him if he took more care in how he fuels his mind and body.