Both prescription and over-the-counter medications have become staples in the daily routines of many Americans. While we all know that there are some drugs that you shouldn’t take on an empty stomach, it’s important to recognize that certain combinations of food and medicine can have extremely adverse effects. More often than not, people are unaware of the consequences of food and drug interactions. The danger lies in our lack of knowledge of what the effect of the drug can be. All people will process and react to a drug with some variation due to age, weight, diet, and other factors. However, when people are combining certain medications, supplements, or foods, they might cause a medication to either underperform or overperform which can seriously if not fatally affect patients in some cases. 

Some of the foods you need to be wary of may surprise you. In our culture of the next new health craze we’ve all become extremely familiar with Kale. Kale is packed full of vitamin K which helps our blood to clot, but can also be risky for patients taking any kind of blood thinner. The vitamin K makes the prescription blood thinner less effective, which to a person at risk of a blood clot can be very dangerous. So for patients on drugs like Warfarin it is better to not go overboard with cruciferous vegetables while taking blood thinning medications.

The next food you may have to take off of your grocery list is grapefruit. A common addition to the breakfast table, this food can actually affect a number of prescription medications such as: statins, calcium channel blockers, and erectile dysfunction drugs. In the case of all three, the natural makeup of a grapefruit can cause these types of medications to over perform in the body and will at the very least cause discomfort for the patient. It’s important to note that Tangelos are in a similar family of citrus fruits and can have similar effects.

One of the more surprising foods to be aware of is aged cheese. In general people might associate cheese with dairy, and dairy is encouraged as a probiotic. However for patients who are taking a monoamine oxidase (which is a class of antidepressants), they should avoid not only aged cheese but also red wines, malt beer, smoked fish, and dried fruits as they contain Tryamines and can cause extremely high or life-threatening blood pressure in patients.

It’s important to recognize that throughout the day, we all consume combinations of foods and medications with no serious side effects whatsoever. If you are taking something new or adding in some new medication to your daily regimen, it’s always helpful to talk to your local pharmacist about what you can and can’t eat with your medications. Pharmacists are a great resource and can provide immensely helpful information on medication interactions.