Food and Drug Interactions: What You Should Know
By Jentry Larsen
Feb 21, 2017
Updated Jul 13, 2023
5 min read
Food-drug interactions come with serious effects including:
Additionally, some medications can change how your body uses certain foods, which can be harmful. To ensure you stay safe, when you take any kind of medication (prescribed or over-the-counter) carefully follow the information on the label and the dosage instructions from your doctor or pharmacist.
Below is a general guide of common medications that can cause side effects if their dosage is not properly followed and/or carry side effects with certain foods. Please note, the information within the guide should never take the place of the advice from your doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional. Before starting a new medication, be sure to ask a healthcare professional if there are any problems you could have when you use your medication with other drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements/dietary supplements, food, caffeine, or alcohol.
Anticoagulants (example: Warfarin)
-While you can take Warfarin on a full or empty stomach, Vitamin K in food can make medicine less effective (broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts). Cranberry juice and cranberry products can change the effects of Warfarin. Avoiding garlic, ginger, glucosamine, ginseng, and gingko is important as they can increase the chance of bleeding.
Lipid-Altering Statins (example: Lipitor)
-Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals. Large amounts of grapefruit juice can raise the levels of these drugs and greatly increase the chance of side effects. While some forms of statins don’t interact with grapefruit juice, all statins are affected by alcohol and can increase the chance of liver damage. So it is wise to speak to a healthcare professional about alcohol use while on statins.
Narcotics (example: hydrocodone)
-Commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, narcotics can be highly addictive and can cause extreme side effects. These side effects are increased when alcohol is consumed. When using narcotics, it is wise to speak to a pharmacist or provider about storing them safely so others do not have access to them.
ACE Inhibitors (example: Lisinopril)
-ACE inhibitors lower blood pressure and can treat heart failure. These drugs can increase potassium in your body, so avoid eating large amounts of food high in potassium such as bananas, oranges, and green leafy vegetables.
Quinolone Antibiotics (example: Ciprofloxacin)
-Used to treat infections caused by bacteria, all of the medication must be finished to kill the cause of the infection. Don’t take quinolone antibiotics with dairy products or calcium-fortified juices alone, but you can take ciprofloxacin with meals that contain dairy products. Tell your doctor if you consume foods or drinks with caffeine, because these drugs can cause caffeine to build up in the body.
When receiving a prescription for a new medication or if you take a new over-the-counter drug, please speak with your pharmacist or medical provider about what foods or other medications you should avoid or be concerned about while taking the medication.