Preventing 4 Common Food-Drug Interactions

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There's a good chance you take a prescription drug about 82 percent of American adults do, and an additional 29 percent take up to five, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What you may not realize is what eat and drink can impact how drugs work.

We sat down with Tenille Yates, registered dietitian, and Richard Montgomery, pharmacy services director, both at AdventHealth, who fills us in on four foods that most commonly interact with medications.

1. Green leafy vegetables
When it comes to leafy greens, we tell patients to only enjoy them once or twice a week rather than avoiding it all together, says Yates. The biggest one is a drug called Warafin, a blood-thinning drug.

And vitamin K, which helps clot blood, is the antidote if you have too much Warafin in your system, Montgomery adds. The drug may not perform as well to keep your blood thin.

2. Aged cheese
Tyramine shows up in aged cheeses like gouda, parmesan and blue cheese, says Yates. It is also in wine, beer, soy sauce and most meats.

Those can interact with MAO inhibitors (anti-depressants such as Nardil), anti-Parkinson's medications and antibiotics, says Montgomery. This can add to a rise in blood pressure.

3. Grapefruit
If you're a fan of grapefruit or grapefruit juice, its smart to check with your physician and pharmacist before taking medications, such as cholesterol meds, blood thinners or tranquilizers, with it. Grapefruit juice blocks special enzymes in the wall of the small intestine and can actually destroy many medications to a certain degree.

4. Dairy products
Be careful when taking certain antibiotics, says Montgomery. The calcium in the milk, can bind with the antibiotic to make it less effective.

As with any prescription for new medication, or even if you're trying a new over-the counter drug, it's a good idea to read the drug warning label first. Montgomery advises asking whether you should take the drug with meals or not and if there are any specific foods that you should avoid. 

Your pharmacist is a great resource so don't be too shy to ask us, he says.

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