October 17 to 24 marks Food and Drugs Interactions and Awareness Week in the United States. The seven-day event aims to educate the public about how prescription medications and alcohol respond to certain nutritional ingredients and supplements and vice versa. Some of these combinations can hinder the needed effectiveness of various medicines or enhance the potency of other drugs to dangerous degrees.
According to Pharmacists Planning Service (PPS), Inc., food and drug interactions are a two-way street. Certain foods and their ingredients can affect people on medication and particular drugs can manipulate existing nutrients in the body. An extensive list of interactions that can seriously impact one’s health include the following:
- Various antidepressants, from Phenelzine (Nardil) to St. John’s Wort, can cause severe headaches, high blood pressure or stroke if taken with foods containing tyramine. These types of foods encompass bananas, alcohol, canned soups, bean curd, smoked fish pickles and protein supplements, to name a few
- People using diuretics or water pills like Bumetanide (Bumex), Furosemide (Lasix) and Hydrocholorothiazide (Hydrodiuril) must maintain a diet high in potassium and magnesium to ensure effective absorption. Potential foods consist of fresh, dried and juiced fruits, lentils and green leafy vegetables. However, those using diuretics such as Spironolactone (Aldactone) and Triamterene (Dyazide) should avoid these foods
- Individuals taking medication for hypertension and other cardiovascular conditions should avoid eating more than one ounce of sweets or sugars on a regular basis, which increase blood pressure
- Specific cardiovascular drugs like Benazepril (Lotensin), Captopril (Capoten) and Enalapril (Vasotec) should not be taken with antacids, salt substitutes or other foods with potassium chloride
- The amounts of vitamin K present in different meats and leafy vegetables can significantly affect how blood thinners like Warfarin (Coumadin) work.
- People taking asthma medications such as Theophylline (TheoDur, Slo-Phyllin) should limit doses of caffeine to two or three servings at most each day
- Those taking thyroid medication should only eat foods containing goitrogens occasionally as they can interfere with thyroid functioning. Foods include soybeans, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and turnips
- Foods and beverages rich in calcium, such as milk, can completely nullify the effects of tetracycline, a common antibiotic
- As little as eight ounces of grapefruit juice can raise concentrations of a wide array of drugs in a person’s bloodstream. It can also inhibit absorption of other medicines.
- As a standard precaution, water should be used to help swallow medicine. In contrast, using alcoholic beverages can reduce the vitamins and minerals required to absorb the treatment and can even erode the coating of time-release pills and disrupt the medication’s intended dosage
PPS also stated that users of medication should follow the specific instructions given to them by their clinician or pharmacy to ensure the best results. For example, some pharmaceuticals are intended for consumption on an empty stomach while others should be taken after a meal.
Many different foods, medications and other substances can interact in negative ways throughout the body. In the case of using illicit drugs or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, detox and abstinence may be the best answer. If you or someone you know is struggling with any form of substance abuse, contact the California Detox Helpline online or over the phone to break the addiction.