4 common food-drug interactions and their effects

Food-drug interactions can occur with prescription as well as over-the-counter medicines. Some nutrients can affect the way our body metabolizes certain medicines by binding with their ingredients. This reduces their absorption or speeds their elimination. Some food-drug interactions can also cause side effects and require immediate medical assistance.

Most interactions are mild to moderate in intensity and usually develop due to unsupervised and unadvised administration of the medications. Here are some of the most common and significant food-drug interactions to keep in mind:

  • Grapefruit: one of the more well-known food-drug interactions involves grapefruit and grapefruit juice and certain cholesterol-lowering statin medications as it metabolizes these drugs in your intestines and can lead to greater concentrations of medication in your bloodstream. This increases the effects of the drugs on the body and can cause side effects and drug toxicity.
  • Vitamin K: Foods rich in vitamin K such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, and canola oil are essential for the clotting mechanism of the body. Patients who have been prescribed anticoagulants, such as aspirin, heparin, or warfarin, require careful and consistent intake of such foods as the level of intake can impact the effect of the drug on the body.
  • Chocolate: contrary to the common belief, patients who have been prescribed should not eat excessive amounts of chocolate as the caffeine in chocolate can interact with stimulant drugs and increase their effect on the body.
  • Licorice: Doctors often prescribe Lanoxin for patients suffering from congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. For such patients, some forms of licorice may increase the risk of Lanoxin toxicity. Licorice may also reduce the effects of blood pressure medications or diuretic drugs.

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