Some foods can change the way some meds work
Updated: Jan 21
Many prescription medicines come with instructions about whether to take them with or without food. Which specific foods is something they rarely cover.
And that’s a problem, says Mayo Clinic pharmacist Danielle Hess, because “[c]ertain foods and beverages can reduce, enhance, or alter a drug’s absorption in the body, so you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether to avoid them while on a given medication.”
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can cause problems if you’re taking statins to reduce cholesterol, corticosteroids for inflammatory digestive disorders, prescription drugs for high blood pressure, anxiety, or to prevent organ transplant rejection. They can increase the drugs’ levels in your blood by blocking a major enzyme that breaks them down. With over-the-counter antihistamines such as Allegra, they work the opposite way, reducing the amount of medication in your blood. Grapefruits you eat or grapefruit juice you drink can interact with simvastatin and lovastatin in a way that can lead to myopathy or muscle tissue breakdown (rhabdomyolysis). If you’re taking the more commonly prescribed atorvastatin (generic Lipitor), you should never drink more than 40 ounces of grapefruit juice (equivalent to eating five fresh grapefruits) a day.
Cranberry juice can make blood-thinner warfarin stronger, leading to a higher risk of bleeding. If you have any unexplained muscle pain or hepatitis symptoms (yellow skin or eyes, dark-colored urine, pale stools), contact your doctor right away.
Alcohol – Heavy alcohol consumption, on the other hand, can decrease warfarin’s anticoagulation effectiveness by helping your body metabolize it faster.
Spinach, turnips, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts can also interact with warfarin. The vitamin K they contain can reduce its efficacy and raise the risk of blood clots. So limit the amount you eat, and keep it consistent.
Big meals actually improve another blood-thinner’s effectiveness and absorption. So if you take Xarelto (rivaroxaban), take it with your biggest meal of the day.
The calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products can bind with antibiotics such as tetracycline, doxycycline, and ciprofloxacin. This binding forms an insoluble substance that your digestive system can’t absorb into your body. So take your antibiotics at least an hour before or two hours after you pour milk on your breakfast cereal or drink a glass of warm milk at bedtime. If you take Synthroid (levothyroxine) for hypothyroidism, do it on an empty stomach or three to four hours after eating.
High protein foods can interfere with the brain’s ability to absorb levodopa. So if you take it for Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms, spread out your protein intake throughout the day.
Bananas, orange juice, melons, potatoes, leafy greens, and other foods add potassium to your blood stream. This can cause different interactions with different heart-related medicines. Blood pressure drugs like ACE inhibitors and receptor blockers (e.g., losartan) work by raising your body’s potassium levels. Adding more potassium can trigger potentially dangerous heart arrhythmias. Diuretics like furosemide work by lowering potassium levels, in which event you’d want to consume more. So it makes good sense to have your potassium level checked periodically – particularly if you’re taking both.
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