Five common food and drug interactions

Five common food and drug interactions
Pharmacist, Alayne Alozie, holds free seminars about food and drug interactions (Source: WAFB)
Pharmacist, Alayne Alozie, holds free seminars about food and drug interactions (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sometimes, even healthy foods can do harm if they're combined with the wrong medications. Walgreens pharmacist, Alayne Alozie, explains many foods can interact with drugs by delaying, decreasing, or inhibiting the body's ability to absorb the medicine. On the other hand, some medicines require food to help the body absorb them better.

"When you take your medication, your body is processing the medication and using it for whatever it was designed to do. The food interferes with that. It kind of gets in the way sometimes, and other times, with some medications, it makes you have higher levels in your body than you intended it to," said Alozie.

According to the pharmacist, the five most common foods that can interfere with drugs are grapefruit juice, green leafy vegetables, salt substitutes, dairy products, and alcohol. Grapefruit juice can interact with how your body breaks down some drugs that treat cholesterol, blood pressure, and anxiety and make those drugs more potent than they should be.

Green leafy vegetables rich in vitamin K can counteract blood thinners, keeping the drug from preventing clots. Salt substitutes, which many use as a low sodium option, can create high levels of potassium when combined with drugs used to treat heart failure or atrial fibrillation like digoxin. Too much potassium can lead to further heart issues, including irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations. Dairy products rich in calcium, like milk and yogurt, can keep your body from absorbing some medicines, including antibiotics, properly, making them less effective.

Alcohol, meanwhile, can interact with a wide range of drugs, increasing drowsiness or creating digestive issues. The FDA actually recommends avoiding alcohol altogether if you take any kind of medicine.

Alozie does her part to educate patients about potential drug interactions, including holding a free seminar at the Humana health insurance main office in Baton Rouge. She also notes that just because there may be an interaction, doesn't mean you must swear off a certain food. Sometimes, it's a matter of consuming the food and the medication separately. That's why she says it's vital to take medicine only as it is prescribed and to follow all directions.

She also urges patients not to change their routine without first talking to their doctor. Patients can also talk to their pharmacist about any potential side effects or interactions.

"It's those things, these little tips I can give that can help them take their medicine more effectively," said Alozie.

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