Food and Drug Interactions: Which Combinations to Avoid (Video)

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October 25, 2016


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If a food or drink you consume adversely affects the medications you take, serious complications can occur.

Food and drug interactions can increase or decrease the effectiveness of your medicine. These interactions can happen with prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including antacids, vitamins and iron pills.  The side effects can range from minimal to life-threatening.

Food and Drug Interactions Education Week runs from Oct. 21 to 27. It  is an event created to remind people of the importance of  knowing how medications react when mixed with certain foods and drinks, especially alcohol.

If a food that you love has been proven to cause interactions with a new medication that you are prescribed, you may not need to avoid them completely.  It may be possible to adjust the dosage to offset the interaction.  The key is consistency.

Some examples of common foods that interact with medications are:

  • Grapefruit: The fruit and its juice can increase the potency of many drugs that are prescribed.
  • Green leafy vegetables: If you are on a blood thinner, like Coumadin, you should stay away from green leafy vegetables like spinach because it will lower the effectiveness.
  • Alcohol: Numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be very dangerous when combined with alcohol. A few to watch for are: acetaminophen, Codeine, statins and cholesterol lowering drugs.

For a more comprehensive guide of common drugs and food interactions, visit the Food and Drug Administration website.

Get all the information you can when talking with your physician about a new medical plan. Be sure you also share everything that could be important about yourself.  There are safeguards in place for a physician prescribing new drugs, including computerized systems that alert doctors with all the possible interactions. This is why it’s so important that your doctor has all your medical history when talking about new prescriptions.

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