10 Food and Drug Interactions You Should Know About

Medication schedule and meals. Conceptual photo. On color napkin, on wooden background

Started taking a new medication? It’s possible for what you’re eating to affect how it works – check this list of food and drug interactions for more details.

Have you started taking a new medication?

Do you read the drug information provided to you for the new medicine? Research has shown that 50% of people rarely or never read the medication information. It’s important to read the info so you know what kind of side effects to expect as well as what interactions may occur.

You may be aware that certain medications can interact badly with each other, but did you know that the food you eat can affect how your meds work? Check out this list of 10 food and drug interactions.

1) Bananas and Blood Pressure Medication

Blood pressure medications like lisinopril and bananas can be a bad combination. When the two are consumed together, it can increase the potassium in your body. Too much potassium can lead to heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, and even death.

Bananas, as well as oranges, and leafy greens can also be bad for people taking ACE inhibitors.

2) Kale and Coumadin

Kale and other leafy greens like spinach can affect the way your body absorbs coumadin. Foods that are high in vitamin K can make it difficult for Coumadin to thin your blood as it should. If you have heart disease, this could trigger a stroke.

People who are on the “warfarin” diet need to avoid, kale, brussels sprouts, collard greens, and asparagus.

These foods can make warfarin meds less effective in preventing blood clots.

3) Black Licorice and Lanoxin

Real black licorice, not to be confused with the licorice flavored candy, contains glycyrrhiza. This ingredient can decrease potassium in the body and potentially cause an irregular heartbeat.

Glycyrrhiza can raise blood pressure for people taking birth control pills and reduce the effectiveness of those taking blood pressure medications.

4) Salt Substitutes and ACE Inhibitors

If you are taking ACE Inhibitors (medications that dilate your blood vessels), you should be careful when using salt substitutes. These substitutes replace sodium with potassium. You run the risk of an increase in blood potassium levels.

Salt substitutes can also decrease the effectiveness of digoxin for heart failure patients.

5) Milk and Antibiotics

Milk and other calcium-rich foods like cheese and yogurt can affect the way your body reacts to antibiotics like tetracycline. These foods can keep your body from fully absorbing antibiotics.

A good rule of thumb is to take your antibiotic one to two hours after eating.

6) Grapefruit and Blood Pressure Medication

You have probably heard that grapefruit and blood pressure meds. Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice can make your medicine enter your body faster.

Grapefruit can also affect other medications like birth control, thyroid-replacement meds, and antihistamines. Be sure to check with your doctor if grapefruit is a staple at your breakfast.

7) Walnuts and Thyroid Meds

If you are taking medications like levothyroxine for hyperthyroidism, you should avoid eating walnuts. Walnuts and other high fiber foods can keep your body from absorbing the thyroid medicine. These types of medications are better absorbed by the body at bedtime.

8) Avocado and Linezolid

Linezolid is a strong antibiotic that can cause blood pressure to go up in some people. For this reason, it’s important to avoid foods that contain tyramine like avocado, salami, and large amounts of chocolate.

MAOIs (a class of medication used to treat depression) also interact with tyramine-containing foods because when these medications are taken, large amounts of tyramine enter the bloodstream. This causes adrenaline-like substances to be released.

This can cause the elevation in blood pressure. For many people, a change in your diet and dosage may be necessary when taking MAOIs.

9) Wheat Bran and Heart Medication

Wheat bran can slow the body’s ability to absorb heart medications. Insoluble fibers like wheat bran are important to maintain a healthy diet, so just be sure to take your heart meds two hours before or after a fiber-rich meal.

10) Alcohol and Antihistamines

Antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness. When you add alcohol, it can make you even more tired.

If you are taking ibuprofen or aspirin, you should also avoid alcohol. These meds are considered “blood thinners” meaning they slow down your blood clotting time. You can also experience stomach bleeding and serious liver damage.

Alcohol can sometimes decrease how effective a drug is, so you need to be sure it’s okay to drink while taking certain medications.

What to Do When You Get a New Medicine

When you get a new medicine, there are a few things you need to do so you can avoid possible food and drug interactions. You should always speak with your doctor to understand what the medication is and why you have been prescribed it.

If you are taking an over the counter medicine and read the information on the box or bottle. Ask your pharmacist any questions you may have regarding the medication.

Be sure that you disclose any other medicines, prescription or non-prescription, that you are taking to your doctor and pharmacist, so they can be sure it’s okay to add the new medicine. Food isn’t the only thing that can interfere with medications. Other medications can as well.

Knowing Food and Drug Interactions Is Vital

It’s so important that you know the possible food and drug interactions with the medications that you are taking. Knowing the food-drug interactions can be life-saving.

If you enjoy staying up to date on health-related topics, be sure to check out our health blog.

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