variety of different medications in pills, capsules, containers

Potentially Dangerous Food, Medication Combinations

Many people are not aware that eating certain foods can affect the medications they take.  The potential dangers include an interaction that makes a drug more potent – or less effective. The food can cause a reaction that changes the effect of the medication. Particular foods can also create or heighten side effects, according to Family Doctor.

“It’s an issue that’s not on a lot of people’s radar screens. Honestly, it is not on many doctors’ radar screens either,” says Bethanne Brown, professor of pharmacy at the J.L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati. Brown says that the important information is likely found in the packet you receive when you pick up prescription drugs but can get lost in all the written information.

Here are five drug/food combinations that should be avoided:

  1. A variety of medications and grapefruit juice. According to Eat This, Not That!, grapefruit juice should not be taken with antihistamines, cholesterol-lowering statin drugs or drugs that treat high blood pressure because the juice allows more of the drug to enter the bloodstream. This can cause more side effects.
  2. Blood thinners and leafy green vegetables. Leafy greens contain vitamin K, which can interfere with blood thinning drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin). Vitamin K is used by the body to make blood-clotting factors, but warfarin reduces the action of vitamin K, says U.S. News & Health Report. Experts say that the risk is decreased if you are consistent in the amount of greens you eat. “The problem comes when somebody eats a spinach salad every day for a few weeks until the bag of spinach runs out, and then goes the next week without eating any,” says Tasha Woodall, associate professor of clinical education at University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
  3. Antibiotics and dairy foods. According to AARP, antibiotics in the tetracycline family, such as doxycycline and minocycline, that are used to treat bacterial infections and the drug ciprofloxacin, often prescribed to treat pneumonia, can be affected by the calcium in dairy products. Consuming cheese, milk and yogurt while taking these pills can affect the drug’s absorption. Avoid calcium-containing foods an hour before, and two hours after, taking these medications, says Brown.
  4. Bananas and ACE inhibitors. Bananas, salt, oranges, and leafy green vegetables should not be eaten when taking ACE inhibitors, prescribed to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, according to Eat This, Not That! “These foods are all high in potassium, which helps provide electrical signals to heart-muscle cells and other cells,” according to Consumer Reports . “Consuming them with the medications listed could increase the amount of potassium in your body and may lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations which could be deadly.”
  5. Antidepressants and red wine. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, antidepressants such as MAO inhibitors are dangerous when mixed with foods or drinks that contain the amino acid tyramine. These include beer, red wine, chocolate, processed meat, avocados, and some cheeses.

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