Watch What You Eat When Taking Medications
Certain foods can make prescriptions less effective or cause dangerous side effects
By Halle Elbling
San Diego Union Tribune
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.
Medications interact with foods and nutrients in various ways, and a little study can help you avoid problems.
Some medications can decrease appetite or change the way a nutrient is absorbed, metabolized or excreted. Food you eat could make the medications you take work faster, slower, or even prevent them from working. Besides certain foods, some beverages, alcohol, caffeine, and even cigarettes can interact with medicines. This may make them less effective or may cause dangerous side effects or other problems.
Here is information about interactions that can occur between many common prescription and over-the-counter medications with food, alcohol and caffeine. This information should not replace the advice from your physician, pharmacist or other health care professional.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These reduce pain, fever, and inflammation. Examples are aspirin (such as Bayer or Ecotrin); ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Anaprox, Aleve, Naprosyn).
These medications can irritate the stomach; it is best to take them with food or milk.
Avoid or limit the use of alcohol because chronic use can increase your risk of liver damage or stomach bleeding.
Sometimes called “water pills,” diuretics help eliminate water, sodium, and chloride from the body. Examples are furosemide (such as Lasix); triamterene and hydrochlorothiazide (Dyazide, Maxzide); hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril); and triamterene (Dyrenium).
Some diuretics cause loss of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Triamterene, on the other hand, is known as a “potassium-sparing” diuretic. It blocks the kidneys’ excretion of potassium, which can cause hyperkalemia (increased potassium). Excess potassium may result in irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations. When taking triamterene, avoid eating large amounts of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, oranges and green leafy vegetables, or salt substitutes that contain potassium.
These help prevent the formation of blood clots. An example is warfarin (Coumadin).
Vitamin K produces blood-clotting substances and may reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants, so limit the amount of foods high in vitamin K (including broccoli, spinach, kale, turnip greens, cauliflower and brussels sprouts).
Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels. Examples are atorvastatin (Lipitor); and simvastatin (Zocor).
Calcium channel blockers are common drugs that reduce high blood pressure. Examples are Adalat and Procardia.
Avoid grapefruit juice. These drugs interact with grapefruit juice in a way that increases the blood concentration of the drug.
Halle Elbling is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Palomar Pomerado Health.
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