The XX Factor

Maybe Tom Brady and Trump Are Friends Because They Both Have Daffy Beliefs About Health and Wellness

Tom Brady.

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There’s always a frisson of satisfaction when one is reminded that extremely beautiful people sometimes have brains that are the equivalent of as a box of sparkly rocks. It suggests the existence of a kind of cosmic balance—that assets like smarts and beauty are doled out fairly, and not heaped willy-nilly on one person. With that in mind, please enjoy this new ESPN the Magazine profile of Tom Brady, who is both talented and good-looking, but also believes that drinking a lot of water prevents sunburns.

Here’s how reporters Tom Junod and Seth Wickersham sum up Brady’s quixotic belief in the SPF powers of H2O:

Every day, he wakes up at 6 in the morning and immediately drinks 20 ounces of purified water, augmented with TB12 electrolytes, which, as he tells us, contain the “72 trace minerals” generally lost in perspiration. As a result, he says, he is so well-hydrated that “even with adequate exposure to the sun, I won’t get sunburned,” and he presumes that the muscles under his skin look like “beautiful tenderloins” instead of “shriveled jerky.”

“This is fake news,” a dermatologist told NBC News about Brady’s theory, which the quarterback expands on in his recent book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. “Being hydrated has nothing to do with getting a sunburn, or whether your skin peels.”

Here are some other beliefs about health and wellness that Brady has espoused over the years, along with reactions from experts:

—Brady does not eat white sugar, white flour, gluten, cooked olive oil, peppers, mushrooms, eggplant, coffee, other caffeine, or dairy. He tries to avoid tomatoes. According to his personal chef, he also “prefers not to eat fruits.” (“Scientists: Tom Brady’s diet is total BS.”)

—Brady attributes much of his athletic success and longevity to the carefully cultivated “pliability” of his muscles. The New York Times sums up the approach: “You must contract muscles while also stretching and pummeling them, preferably with high-tech, vibrating foam rollers or vibrating spheres.” (“It’s balderdash.”—a muscle physiology expert interviewed in that Times piece)

—“Try not to drink too much water during a meal, as it can interfere with digestion,” Brady writes in his book. “Wait an hour or so after you’re done eating before you drink water, since water washes away the body’s natural enzymes, which break down your food.” (“Drinking liquids with meals, whether it’s water, alcohol or acidic drinks, is unlikely to have negative effects on digestion.”—registered dietician who specializes in sports medicine)

—He has claimed that “ice cream” made from avocado and cacao “tastes great.” (“No it doesn’t”—Ruth Graham)

Speaking of Brady’s powers of judgment, he is also a longtime friend of President Donald Trump. (Brady called Trump’s criticism of recent NFL player protests “divisive” in September, but has generally declined to speak out against the president.) Other than the fact that they are both famous, their relationship has always been tough to figure out. They are of different generations and they work in different industries; they are married to different beautiful women with long shiny hair.

If you squint, however, these two pals do have one thing in common: Their hilariously daffy beliefs about health and wellness. Trump, after all, is a man who avoid exercise because of a theory that “a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy,” as Evan Osnos reported in the New Yorker this year. Trump once chastised a casino executive for training for a triathlon: “You are going to die young because of this.” He considers standing to deliver a speech to be exercise.

Sure, one of these men is a chiseled god who survives on protein shakes and raw cucumber, and one a lumpen former McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty pitchman who wolfs down fast food, candy, and Diet Coke. Clearly, the results of their unorthodox beliefs have led them in wildly different directions, physically. On the other hand, in their own ways, they are both defying the odds: one is a top-level professional quarterback at age 40; the other is the president of the United States.