And that’s a smart move. But do you ask your doctor about the foods you eat? Probably not.
Unfortunately, you could be missing food and drug interactions that are making your medications less effective – or even dangerous!
Check out these seven food and drug interactions to make sure you’re as healthy as you think you are!
ACE inhibitors and... Bananas. If you’re taking ACE inhibitors for a heart condition, then this food and drug interaction is twofold. First, while bananas may be healthy for everyone else, people taking ACE inhibitors need to be wary. Part of what an ACE inhibitor does is increase potassium levels in the bloodstream – but bananas are packed with potassium. So much so that bananas are recommended for people who have a potassium deficiency. You can imagine what combining two ways to raise your potassium levels might do. And high levels of potassium can cause heart palpitations, so it’s not something you want to risk. But remember we said this food and drug interaction was two-fold?
ACE inhibitors and… Salt Substitutes. It would be easy to believe that swapping over to a salt substitute would be a smart, heart healthy choice – but not necessarily if you’re taking ACE inhibitors. In order to get the flavor they’re looking for, many people use more than the recommended amount of salt substitute. And by loading up on salt substitute, they’re also loading up on potassium. So limit how much salt and how much salt substitute you’re using. Branch out into other herbs and spices for new and delicious flavor profiles.
Acetaminophen and…Alcohol. Even though you may have learned years ago not to take Tylenol to help a hangover, you may not realize that’s a bad combination even if you’re not worried about the morning after. Taking acetaminophen on a regular basis for any kind of chronic pain can cause liver damage over time. Just like drinking in excess can cause liver damage over time. If you combine alcohol and acetaminophen, it only takes three glasses of wine a night to become problematic. Cut back on the alcohol, the Tylenol, or (ideally) both, to protect your liver for the long haul.
Antibiotics and…Dairy. Many people take their antibiotics with a glass of milk to combat nausea. And with some antibiotics, that’s a perfectly safe choice. However, check with your doctor before you assume you can take an antibiotic with milk, or cheese, or other dairy products. Combining certain antibiotics with dairy products could cause less of the medicine to be absorbed, so you don’t get the full dose. Luckily, you don’t have to avoid dairy products completely while on antibiotics. Just wait two hours after you take your pill before eating or drinking dairy foods.
Antidepressants and…Cheese. This food and drug interaction applies specifically to the family of antidepressants known as MAOI inhibitors. If you’re taking one of these antidepressants, know that cheeses can cause blood pressure spikes. Not sure if you’re antidepressant is an MAOI inhibitor? Stay away from the cheese until you can speak with your doctor, just in case.
Blood thinners and…Leafy Greens. Every healthy diet is built on leafy greens, so it seems impossible that there might be a situation where they aren’t healthy. But if you’re taking blood thinners, talk to your doctor about how many leafy greens you can eat safely. The issue arises because some blood thinners are meant to block the production of vitamin K in the liver – but leafy greens are loaded with vitamin K, so the vegetables and the blood thinner are in conflict.
Statins and…Grapefruit. As with leafy greens, adding fresh fruit to your diet seems like a really healthy choice, especially if you’re trying to lower cholesterol. But if you’re taking statins to help achieve that goal, you need to skip the grapefruit. Grapefruit can increase the side effects of the statin, which may be unpleasant, but also can cause the medication to be absorbed abnormally in the blood. In other words, you can get too much or too little from each dose.
A note about grapefruit and medications: this food and drug interaction isn’t limited to statins. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice are contraindicated for several medications, including over the counter cough medicine. If you are a fan of the fruit, ask your doctor or pharmacist about complications it may create with any medication you’re taking, just to be on the safe side.
Dealing with food and drug interactions may seem like a big deal – but it doesn’t have to be. You educate yourself about your medications, anyway. Now, just educate yourself about your food, too!