food and medicine Health & Wellness

Taking Medications? You May Need to Avoid These Foods

Food-medication interactions can impact the body in various ways. Mixing certain foods or beverages with your medication can interfere with how your medication is digested or absorbed, block its breakdown, or exaggerate its effects. These interactions can occur when using prescription medication, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or supplements.

5 Foods That Interact With Medications

1. Grapefruit

This citrus fruit interferes with how the body metabolizes certain drugs. It’s most commonly known to increase the absorption of medicine into the bloodstream, resulting in a higher concentration of the drug and increasing your risk for liver damage and muscle breakdown. You may need to avoid grapefruit if you take medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, a cough, or heartburn.

2. Dairy Products

Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, can alter the effectiveness of antibiotics. Dairy is a rich source of calcium, which interferes with some antibiotics and iron supplements, preventing their absorption and causing a less active circulation in the bloodstream.

3. Tyramine-Rich Foods

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which treat depression and the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and other drugs can interfere with the breakdown of tyramine, an amino acid found in several foods. High levels of tyramine in the bloodstream can also lead to an increase in blood pressure. Common tyramine-rich foods include chocolate, processed meats, aged or mature cheese, and soy products.

4. Green, Leafy Veggies

You were always told to eat your greens, but if you’re taking blood thinners, you might need to minimize your intake. The high amount of vitamin K found in green, leafy vegetables can decrease the medicine’s ability to prevent blood clots. This happens when you suddenly reduce or increase the number of greens in your diet, so you don’t have to avoid them entirely. Eating them in consistent amounts will keep your vitamin K levels balanced

5. Alcohol

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t take medications with alcohol, but the two can interact harmfully even if consumed hours apart. In fact, both can escalate the effects of the other. Mixing them can cause internal bleeding, heart problems, and difficulties in breathing among many other negative consequences.

How You Can Prevent Food-Drug Interactions

While medicine has its benefits, each may have side effects as well. When deciding to take a medication or supplement, always consult a pharmacist or physician. To ensure your safety, follow these additional tips:

  • Tell your doctor about all medications you are currently taking.

  • Follow directions and warnings located on the container.

  • Create a medication schedule.

  • If medicine is causing you any discomfort or sickness, talk to your physician or pharmacist about adjusting or changing medication.

Want to test your food-medication interaction knowledge? Take this quiz.

If you take prescription medication, vitamins, or supplements, talk with your doctor to ensure safe dietary habits. Make an appointment with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Groupprimary care physician today.



Sources:

Food-Medicine Interactions

FDA - Grapefruit Juice and Medicine May Not Mix

NCBI - Food-Drug Interactions

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics -  5 Common Food-Drug Interactions

NIH - Harmful Interactions

NBC - Foods to avoid when you're taking meds

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