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The Renewed Life Blog

Beware these Common Food and Drug Interactions

Senior Living | 07/24/18


Beware these Common Food and Drug Interactions

Medication usage amongst the senior community is prominent, in fact, more than one-third of prescription drugs used in the U.S. are taken by older adults. On average, a senior takes more than five prescription medications regularly. Properly taking your medications is all a part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and doctors tend to do a great job of notifying their patients of what drugs should not be mixed. However, there are some common food and drug interactions to be aware of, too, to stay safe and healthy.

So, what happens when certain foods and drugs come into contact with each other? Well, specific enzymes in the body break down and metabolize drugs, but when mixed with certain foods, those enzyme levels can be raised or lowered. This, in turn, can render the medication ineffective, or conversely, their effects can be unintentionally increased. While this is not a comprehensive list of interactions, it should be a good starting point for reviewing and revising your daily diet.

Potentially Dangerous Food and Medication Interactions

Certain food or drug combinations can be surprising, and you might not know that what you’re eating regularly may be affecting your medications. Here is a list of common food and drug interactions to watch out for:

  • Grapefruit. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice, when mixed with your stomach’s enzymes, can increase the dosage levels of certain drugs. If you are taking certain anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and/or pain medications you should cut grapefruit from your diet. Grapefruit can also render heart medication inactive.
  • Fish oil supplements. Fish oil can be dangerous when combined with blood thinners. Why? Because fish oil can also thin the blood. Fish itself, however, is still safe to eat.
  • Draft beer. This beverage contains a chemical called tyramine, which is also found in chocolate, hot dogs, and sharp cheddar cheese, and it can be potentially a dangerous amino acid. This chemical can specifically affect Parkinson’s and anti-depressant medications.
  • Cinnamon. Smaller quantities of the spice are okay, but larger amounts can lower your blood sugar. Diabetes medications also lower your blood sugar, so mixing these two could result in a dangerously low blood sugar.
  • Red wine, hard cheese, and chocolate. These foods and drink should not be mixed with certain anti-depressants. Red wine, hard cheese, and chocolate contain harmful ingredients that are normally broken down by enzymes, but monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants can block these important enzymes.
  • Calcium. Heart medications, called calcium channel blockers, work to lower blood pressure. However, too much calcium would render the medication useless. If you are on a calcium channel blocker, you should limit your calcium intake to 1,000 milligrams.
  • Bananas. Blood pressure medication should not be mixed with high quantities of bananas or other high-potassium foods. The medication is supposed to lower blood pressure, but when mixed with high amounts of potassium the medication is rendered ineffective.

Properly Managing Your Medications

All of these drug interactions can be a lot to remember, therefore to properly manage your medication and diet it is recommended to create a list. You and your doctor can draft a list of prohibited foods to ensure your health and well-being. This list can then be posted on your refrigerator or written down in a notebook so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Medication management is very important to health. Schedule an appointment with your doctor today, so you can take the appropriate measures to continue your happy and healthy life.

Enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle at Monroe Village

At our continuing care retirement community in Monroe Township, New Jersey, residents enjoy maintenance-free living and a variety of engaging activities to ensure they are healthy and thriving. Learn more about our vibrant living options and the lifestyle we offer or contact us today to schedule your personal tour.