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7 Common Foods That Can Interact with Your Medication

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This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

From the most evident (alcohol) to the least expected (kale), many common foods and drinks can interfere with the medications you take, both prescription and over the counter. Some nutrients, for example, can affect the way your body processes and metabolizes certain drugs by interacting with their ingredients. Other medicines don’t interact with foods, per se, but are only absorbed by the body if you take them with or without a meal. 

 

Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about food interactions before introducing a new medication. They can help you determine whether you need to make any adjustments to your diet. 

7 of the most common foods and drinks that could interfere with your medications

 

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There are many food-drug interactions with varying degrees of severity. Here’s a small list of some of the most common ones. 

 

Alcohol

 

Many prescription and over the counter (OTC) medications come with the warning “Don’t mix with alcohol” because alcohol interacts negatively with a number of drugs. Drinking alcohol while taking medicines can cause problems, such as:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Car accidents
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Heart palpitations
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Changes in blood pressure

 

Examples of commonly used medications with harmful alcohol interactions include prescription and OTC drugs used for: allergies, arthritis, blood clots, hypertension, high cholesterol, inflammation (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs), diabetes, pain, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, fever, cold and flu, and many more.

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Dairy products

 

Milk and milk-derived products, such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, interact with the way your body absorbs certain medications, like antibiotics and thyroid drugs. For example, antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, like ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, as well as certain tetracyclines, may bind to the calcium in milk and form an insoluble film in the gut that prevents the body from absorbing the medications. 

 

If you’re taking antibiotics, avoid eating dairy products at least two hours before and six hours after taking them. 

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Soda

 

Acidic beverages, particularly cola-containing drinks such as Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola, can disrupt the absorption and metabolism of some medications, particularly OTC analgesics (pain medicines) and antipyretics, which are medicines used for treating mild to moderate fevers. 

 

Plus, research suggests that drinking these beverages increases the concentration of certain drugs in the body, including ibuprofen (NSAID), clozapine (antipsychotic), and carbamazepine (a medication that treats bipolar disorder and certain types of seizures). 

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Caffeinated drinks

 

Caffeine is another food that’s commonly associated with a number of negative interactions. For example, some medications, including OTC painkillers, contain caffeine as an active ingredient. So consuming large amounts of caffeine while taking these drugs could potentially lead to drug toxicity. 

 

Additionally, since caffeine causes nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia, it can also interfere with anxiety medications. Read more about mental health medications and their potential interactions here

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Common interactions include:

 

  • Adderall (medication for ADHD)
  • Aspirin
  • Sertraline (antidepressant)
  • Cetirizine (allergy medication)
  • Alprazolam (anxiety medication)
  • Acetaminophen (paracetamol)
  • Lithium
  • Certain birth control pills
  • Quinolones (antibiotics)

 

Leafy greens

 

You may be surprised to learn that healthy as it may be, eating leafy green vegetables like spinach and collard greens is not advisable if you take a specific type of blood thinner called warfarin. This is because research suggests that the vitamin K in leafy greens reduces the medication’s anticoagulant effect, which may lead to blood clots or bleeding. 

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If you take warfarin, your doctor will tell you if you need to make any modifications to your diet. 

 

Fatty meals

 

Studies show that eating a fatty meal before taking esomeprazole (anti-acid) reduces its effectiveness. High-fat foods also decrease the effect of drugs that treat tuberculosis, and eating them too frequently can make the treatment unsuccessful. 

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On the other hand, certain medications require that you take them with a high fat meal. For instance, a study published just last year showed that eating a high-fat breakfast greatly improved how the body absorbed albendazole, which is a medication used to treat tapeworm infections. 

 

Grapefruit

 

The humble grapefruit (and other citruses like pomelo and bitter orange) contain an agent that affects the rate at which the body breaks down certain medicines. Examples include blood pressure medications, cholesterol medicines such as Lipitor, erectile dysfunction drugs, and some thyroid medications. 

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In closing

 

Several foods and drinks can interfere with the medications we take, even if they’re otherwise healthy. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should stop eating nutritious foods to fulfill your body’s needs, since a diet packed with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy carbs and fats is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. 

 

Always talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare provider before taking a new medication and ask about any potential food interactions. Remember that sometimes, something as innocent as a grapefruit or a spinach salad could potentially interfere with the effectiveness of your OTC or prescription medicines. 

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People & Lifestyle

Encourage Decentralization to Accelerate Development – Okyenhene

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Screenshot 2024 04 16 at 19.57.43

Okyenhene Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II has encouraged governments and business leaders to decentralise their operations to accelerate development. He said this when the senior management team of Telecel Ghana, a leading telecommunications company in Ghana, paid a courtesy call on him.

The visit was aimed at advancing a stronger relationship between Telecel Ghana and Okyenhene as well as seeking his blessings and guidance in the company’s new journey as Telecel Ghana. In March 2024, Telecel Ghana officially unveiled its brand to Ghanaians in a spectacular event in Accra.

Led by Ing. Patricia Obo-Nai, CEO of Telecel Ghana, the delegation expressed their gratitude to the Okyenhene for his warm reception and unwavering support towards businesses operating within his jurisdiction. They also highlighted Telecel Ghana’s commitment to contributing to the socio-economic development of Ghana through its innovative telecommunications solutions and corporate social responsibility initiatives.

She reiterated the company’s dedication to ensuring seamless connectivity and digital inclusion for Ghanaians and affirmed Telecel Ghana’s readiness to partner with the Okyenhene ahead of his 25th anniversary celebration.  She added, “we will continue to work with other stakeholders to explore opportunities for expanding telecommunications infrastructure and enhancing access to digital technologies in Ghana.”

The Okyenhene commended Telecel Ghana for its efforts in providing reliable and affordable telecommunications services to the people of Ghana. He emphasized the importance of promoting decentralisation by key government agencies and business operations across the country to accelerate development, citing the vast land space in his kingdom which he is willing to release for development. He also threw a broader challenge to Ghanaian entrepreneurs to venture into setting up indigenous telecommunication businesses in Ghana.

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The visit concluded with an exchange of gifts and pleasantries, symbolizing the mutual respect and goodwill between Telecel Ghana and the Okyenhene.

Telecel Ghana remains committed to building strong partnerships with traditional authorities, government institutions, and other stakeholders to drive sustainable development and create shared value for the people of Ghana.