Million Dollar Vegan has asked President Trump to go vegan for January but why and how would eating plant-based benefit his health? Let’s take a look at his current health status.
During the presidential election, Donald Trump released prior medical examinations. They revealed that his blood pressure was 116/70, his total cholesterol was 169 mg/dl, HDL cholesterol 63, LDL cholesterol 94, and that he had a coronary artery calcium score (CACS) of 98 in 2013. A CACS is a rapid CT scan of the heart done without injecting any contrast agent identifying the future President had some silent coronary artery disease (CAD).
The President permitted the results of his updated annual physical exam to be made public January 2018. His medical team announced that his weight was 239 pounds for a BMI of 29.9. His blood pressure was 122/74. His total cholesterol had risen to 223 mg/dl, LDL cholesterol of 143, HDL cholesterol of 67, and his fasting blood sugar was 89. His calcium score had increased to 133. The records further revealed that he was taking a low-dose daily aspirin and rosuvastatin 10 mg a day, a cholesterol-lowering statin. The dose of rosuvastatin was increased to lower his cholesterol further. He also had a prescription for a topical cream for a rosacea as needed.
A follow-up physical in February 2019 was reported to show the president’s weight was up to 243 pounds, calculating to a BMI of 30.4, just into the obese range. The results of his laboratory studies were not released but his blood pressure was 118/80. In mid-November 2019 the President spent 2 hours at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center having lab work and the preliminary steps for his annual physical planned in 2020. The results of testing have not yet been released.
The President’s medical issues that would be charted in a clinic would include obesity, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol), CAD, and rosacea.
What can the President expect on a vegan whole-food, plant based (WFPB) diet for the 31 days of January?
The President has the resources to have his staff create pleasing and filling meals of whole plant foods in January. If he agrees to take the $1-million dollar offer, he can expect to benefit in many areas.
Many studies, including randomized clinical trials, indicate that a WFPB leads to sustained weight loss. For example, in a community study, the average drop in BMI was over 4 lbs in a 6 month time period. In just 31 days, the President would be expected to drop enough weight to return to the overweight, not obese, category.
Weight gain and a processed food diet with abundant animal foods triggers inflammation that may increase the odds of many chronic diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. While the President’s prior evaluations did not report the results of a common test for inflammation, hs-CRP, it is likely elevated. In a randomized trial performed in patients with heart disease, a WFPB vegan diet led to reductions in inflammation and was superior to an American Heart Association diet.
The efficiency whereby insulin released after a meal returns blood sugar toward normal is referred to as insulin sensitivity. A blunted response to insulin is known as insulin resistance and predicts future heart events and accelerated aging. In a randomized trial, a vegan WFPB was superior to a control diet for reducing insulin resistance and restoring insulin sensitivity, an important marker of metabolic health. If measured, the President would demonstrate improved insulin sensitivity.
Compared with an omnivore diet, studies show that WFPB vegan diets lower cholesterol in part because they contain no cholesterol and have reduced saturated fats, and in part due to the higher fiber. The President would likely enjoy a drop in his blood cholesterol panel. Perhaps he could reduce his statin medication with this response.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
The President has silent CAD based on his two CACS scans. On adopting a WFPB diet for 31 days, the President would be embracing the only diet or treatment ever shown to reverse existing coronary plaque.
Most persons adopting a WFPB vegan diet have improved gut health and bowel frequency. Relief of constipation is anticipated. On this diet, there are no precursors to produce the metabolite TMAO, which studies show can injure arteries as well as heart and kidney tissues. The President would enjoy the win-win of improved GI and cardiac health and enjoy a lower TMAO level.
The President has experienced rosacea. A WFPB diet is very rich in precursors to collagen production which is a key component of skin. A variety of skin disorders have been reported to improve on this diet and the President could anticipate similar gains.
Quality of life
Randomized studies of a WFPB vegan diet in the workplace have been performed. Workers following this diet reported less fatigue, anxiety, depression and improved emotional well-being, daily functioning, and general health. The President is under significant daily stress and would benefit from this diet change.
If the President scheduled a visit to my preventive health clinic, I would review his diet, exercise, sleep and stress programs. I would advise him on increasing his intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains while decreasing his intake of foods rich in added sugars and saturated fats (baked goods, sweetened beverages, cheese, processed and red meats, and processed packaged foods).
An ethical imperative would be to review the scientific data with him indicating that vegan WFPB diets and lifestyle can reverse CAD so he may have less to worry about in the future. There is no doubt that if the President adopts a vegan WFPB diet he will enjoy significant benefits, reduce his carbon footprint, and serve as an important role model to millions of children and adults of all ages to focus on the healthiest diet for prevention of damage to the human body and the planet. After all, a vegan diet is good for everyone, and those interested in finding out more will find free health and nutrition resources available on our website.
Dr. Joel Kahn MD is one of the world’s top cardiologists and has practiced cardiology since 1983, treating thousands of acute heart attacks during his career. His aim, however, is to prevent ALL future heart attacks by educating the public and inspiring a new holistic lifestyle. Dr Kahn advocates a plant-based, anti-aging diet and lectures throughout the country to inspire a new generation of thought leaders to think scientifically and critically about the body’s ability to heal itself through proper nutrition.