Foods That Can Interact with Medications

Grapefruit is a powerhouse of a fruit. It’s packed full of vitamin C and antioxidants, has been shown to reduce the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, is low in calories, and high in nutrients. Grapefruit can also affect how your body absorbs statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) like Lipitor and calcium channel blockers like Norvasc that are prescribed for high blood pressure. 

Of the 85 known drugs that interact with grapefruit, the Canadian Medical Association Journal states that 43 of them can have serious side-effects like acute kidney failure, bone marrow suppression, respiratory failure, and even sudden death.

Medicines all have ingredients that interact in a specific way with the human body, and sometimes what you eat and drink can have a dangerous effect on the drugs. Drug and food interactions, as well as drug and herb interactions, may reduce the effectiveness of the medicines you take, and in some cases, could cause lethal side effects. 

With nearly 70% of the population taking at least one prescription drug, it’s vital that you know which foods and drinks can interact in a bad way with your medicine. As always, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about which foods you should limit while taking medication and how to adjust your diet to make sure your prescriptions are working the way they should. 

The list of drug and food interactions is staggeringly long, but we’ve listed the top six common foods that can interact with your medication.

1. Alcohol

It’s a common warning on many drugs to avoid alcohol, but even one glass of wine could cause a severe reaction. Drinking alcohol may already have negative effects on your body, but if you mix it with certain over-the-counter pain medications like acetaminophen, you could be courting liver damage. 

Other medications like antibiotics or stimulants do not mix well with alcohol either. Metronidazole, an antibiotic used to treat many types of infections, can cause severe stomach pain, palpitations, vomiting, nausea, and headache if you take it within three days of drinking alcohol. 

Yet, people don’t take the dangers seriously. The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study of over 26,000 adults and discovered that over 70% of U.S. adults regularly drink alcohol, and 42% of those who drink also use medications that can interact with alcohol.