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How Diet Could Affect Our Presidential Candidates' Health

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Our presidential candidates' have two of the most common health conditions in America. Here's how their diet could help—and hurt—their treatment efforts.

Now that we have a clearer picture of our two major presidential candidates' health histories, it turns out both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very common chronic medical issues affected by their diet. So what's that say about our two major party candidates? Well, they're just like us. And just like us, they can be (or at least should be) helping treat their condition with their diet.

According to Trump's doctor, the Republican presidential candidate takes a cholesterol-lowering drug, as well as a low dose of aspirin, and is overweight, but the doctor maintains the business man is in "excellent physical health." Trump joins approximately 37 percent of Americans who are either on or eligible (medically speaking) for cholesterol-lowering medication, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Trump's health news comes as his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail after taking a few days off to rest and recover from pneumonia. Earlier this week, the former Secretary of State's campaign released a two-page letter from her doctor that spelled out greater health details. Earlier last year, the campaign revealed the presidential candidate has hypothyroidism. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of Americans have a thyroid condition, so Clinton, too, joins a large collection of people with a form of thyroid disease. Women, especially older women (Clinton will be 69 in late October), are more likely than men to have thyroid problems.

Nutrition & Cholesterol

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Unfortunately for Trump, his penchant for fast food may be one of his biggest undoings if his cholesterol number start creeping up. Many people assume a food's cholesterol level is responsible for their blood cholesterol level (the stuff that clogs arteries). (Foods high in cholesterol include eggs, butter, shrimp, bacon, sausage, and cheese.) But dietary cholesterol doesn't contribute to blood cholesterol as much as we once thought—but overall diet does.

In the fat scare of the 80s, many brands pulled fat from their foods, but they replaced the fats with carbohydrates, like sugar. This didn't cure America's cholesterol problem, which helped researchers identify the real culprits behind high cholesterol: a food's mix of fats (specifically trans fats and saturated fats) and carbohydrates.

If your doctor prescribes cholesterol-lowering medication, that doesn't give you the all-clear to keep eating whatever you want. Many people wrongly believe that a medication can treat and prevent future problems, but the reality is you still need to make some hefty lifestyle changes to help your body maximize the drug's benefits.



Trump (and you if you're on a statin and worried about your cholesterol levels) should look to fill up his plate with healthy cholesterol-fighting foods like walnuts, oatmeal, olive oil, and apples. These foods can help raise your "good" or HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels and lower the unhealthy, artery-damaging "bad" or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) number. Also, swap your regular white pasta and bread (empty carbs) for smarter carbs like whole grains.

While you should be adding certain foods to your regular rotation, you should be taking out certain foods if you're on statin medication, too. Grapefruit is a no-go for people on statins. A compound in the common citrus fruit (and a few other citrus fruits, too) may affect how your body processes certain chemicals in the medication. It may cause a buildup of the medication, which may lead to toxicity. Be sure to clarify what foods are off limits with your doctor.

Nutrition & Hypothyroidism

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When considering what you can and cannot eat with hypothyroidism, there's one word you need to know: iodine. People with certain types of thyroid conditions may be more sensitive to iodine in foods. (Iodine-rich foods include seaweed, cod fish, yogurt, and navy beans.)

Other foods can also interfere with your treatments for hypothyroidism. Certain nutrients can affect how your thyroid gland functions. If it's already compromised because of your thyroid condition, foods could reduce what your thyroid is already doing. That's why it's important to avoid certain foods if you have the condition. Some of these foods include cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), soy, highly-processed foods, fatty foods (including butter, fatty meats, and mayonnaise), and coffee. (Coffee may block the absorption of hypothyroidism medication.)

If you have hypothyroidism or are taking medication to treat the condition, talk with your doctor about what foods, if any, you should avoid and what you should eat more of to help boost the medicine's effectiveness.

Disclaimer: We don't know the candidates' intimate health information. All data was pulled from previously published accounts of the medical records. We are not giving medical advice to you or to these candidates. Please visit your doctor if you think you may have either of these issues or have questions about your treatment plan.