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You can't always eat what you want

A guide for safe food and drug interactions

Susan Glassman (right), U of I Extension Nutrition and Wellness educator, is pictured providing assistance during a health fair held in 2018 at the Putnam County Community Center in Standard. Throughout the year and at a variety of area locations, Glassman regularly holds many informational health programs.
Susan Glassman (right), U of I Extension Nutrition and Wellness educator, is pictured providing assistance during a health fair held in 2018 at the Putnam County Community Center in Standard. Throughout the year and at a variety of area locations, Glassman regularly holds many informational health programs.

STANDARD — It's well known it's in a person's best interest to follow doctor's orders and to take prescribed medication as instructed. It's also well known certain medications shouldn't be taken together. But, what many may not realize is what someone eats and drinks while medicated can also be important.

Susan Glassman, a nutrition and wellness educator with the University of Illinois Extension, has shared information to help families be sure their medications aren't neutralized or being made counterproductive through their diets.

According to the Food-Drug Interactions guide from U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some medications are taken on empty or full stomachs, or after a meal. Some are recommended without foods. When people follow the recommendations, they will have less side effects.

"The most common food-drug interactions are grapefruit juice, green leafy vegetables, black licorice, salt substitutes, or tyramine (an amino acid) containing foods, such as chocolate, aged cheeses, smoked or fermented meats, some lunch meats, fermented soy products and draft beer," Glassman said.

To help prevent unintended consequences caused by these interactions, Glassman recommended an updated list of medications be kept in the notes of a person's phone along with a list of medications and their prescribed amounts. It's also advised to fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy.

Other tips from Glassman include to never open capsules, mix medications into hot drinks, or chew tablets. Also, don't take medications with alcohol; drink a full glass or water to help with stomach irritation and improve absorption; read labels and warning information; follow prescription instructions; and to share concerns with a doctor and pharmacist about any questions a person might have.

Grapefruit and other citrus can cause problems for those taking statin drugs for high cholesterol, as well as medications for high blood pressure, anti-anxiety, corticosteroids, abnormal heart rhythms and antihistamines.

Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts and other greens can affect people on anticoagulants or blood thinners.

Fiber supplements can alter the transport and absorption of Digoxin, Metformin and Levothyroxine.

Chocolate, some cheeses, processed meats and soy sauce can alter monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and drugs for treating the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

"Milk, yogurt, cheese and calcium-fortified juices should be avoided when taking antibiotics," Glassman said.

Fats, such as butter, lard or high-fat meat, fried food, high fat meals and pastries and desserts, can inhibit cholesterol, anti-fungal, bronchodilators and ACE inhibitor medicines.

Fortified foods, such as enriched breads, cereal and other grain products, as well as multivitamins and folate supplements, can negatively alter the absorption of antacids, bile acid sequestrants, birth control, anti-convulsants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).

Fortified dairy, as well as enriched grains, can increase vitamin D levels and interfere with estrogen replacement therapies. Multivitamins and vitamin D supplements may affect antacids, calcium channel blockers, cholestyramine and anticonvulsants.

Enriched grains, multivitamins and iron supplements can impact the effectiveness of ulcer medications, bile acid sequestrants, antibiotics, ACE inhibitors and birth control medications.

Enriched grains, multivitamins, vegan and vegetarian foods, multivitamins and B-12 supplements can also alter the performance of anticonvulsants, chemotherapy medications, bile acid sequestrants, H2 blockers, Metformin and proton pump inhibitors. B-12 can also interfere with antibiotics.

Salt substitutes containing potassium can affect those taking Digoxin or ACE inhibitors, and alcohol should be avoided by those who are prescribed pain relievers, fever reducers, NSAIDs, bronchodilators, statins, nitrates and metformin.

To get the most benefit from prescribed medications, Glassman recommended letting a person's doctor and pharmacist know about every drug being taken, including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.

"The main points I stress are to communicate with your doctor and pharmacist for their recommendations," she said.

For more information, visit the U of I Extension website at https://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/index.php or contact a physician and/or pharmacist.

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