Insights

8 Food and Drug Interactions to Avoid

Alexis Bryan
Alexis Bryan23 Aug 2022

When you start taking a new medication, you should review any potential food and drug interactions with your provider. Alcohol, dairy products, grapefruit juice, and leafy greens can alter the effectiveness of medications or cause unwanted side effects.

If you do not currently have a primary care provider but want to review food and drug interactions for one of your medications, a membership with Mira can help! For $25 per month, Mira’s team of health care representatives can make you an appointment with a virtual care provider for a copay of only $5. Mira can also help you get up to 80% off prescription drug prices and affordable lab testing when you need it.

Food and Drug Interactions

Food and drug interactions occur when a food or beverage interferes with a medication you are taking. These interactions can happen with both prescription and some over-the-counter medications. It is essential to check for drug interactions before starting a new medication for three main reasons. Drug interactions can:

  • Affect how your medication works by changing levels of the drug in your blood
  • Put you at risk for side effects and toxicity
  • Worsen a medical condition you may already have

Some potential side effects of a food-drug interaction include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blurred vision
  • Bruising
  • Constipation
  • Coughing
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain/weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting

Below we outline eight common food and drug interactions to avoid. Please note that this list is not comprehensive, so it is always important to discuss the side effects of your medications with a pharmacist or health care provider. 

8 Food and Drug Interactions to Avoid

FoodDrugWhat Happens in the Body
AlcoholAcetaminophen (Tylenol)Can increase risk of liver damage or stomach bleeding
Alcohol

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including Aspirin,

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and Naproxen (Aleve)

Can increase risk of liver damage or stomach bleeding
AlcoholAntihistamines like BenadrylCan cause drowsiness
AlcoholInsulinAlcohol prolongs the effects of insulin, which leads to low blood sugar
Milk productsAntibioticsCan decrease the absorption of the antibiotic, thus decreasing the effectiveness
Grapefruit juice

Cholesterol-lowering medications (Lipitor)



 

Can decrease the effectiveness or increase absorption resulting in a greater risk of side effects
Grapefruit juiceBlood pressure medicationCan increase absorption resulting in a greater risk of side effects
Leafy green vegetablesBlood thinners like WarfarinHas high levels of vitamin K, which can decrease the effectiveness

Tips to Avoid Food and Drug Interactions

  1. Communicate: First and most importantly, maintain open communication with your doctor or pharmacist about all of the medications you are taking. Make sure to discuss any pain relievers or other over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Don’t hesitate to ask questions – they are there to keep you healthy and informed!
  2. Read drug labels: On every medication, there are directions, warnings, and interactions printed on the drug warning label, including on over-the-counter drugs.
  3. Use the Drug Interactions Checker at https://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html: Simply type the name of the drug you are taking to see any interactions.
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Drug and Food Interactions Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Starting a new medication can be scary, but your doctor is on your side. If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to call or make an appointment with a virtual care provider through Mira.

What should I ask my doctor about drug interactions?

You should ask your doctor any questions about the new medication you are taking! They prescribed this medication to you to help you stay healthy and are there to address all of your concerns. Some recommended questions regarding food-drug interactions are:

  • Do I need to avoid certain foods with my medicine?
  • What happens if I eat certain foods with my medication?
  • Are there any other substances I need to avoid?
  • Is there a certain time of day I should take my medicine?
  • Should I take my medicine with food or on an empty stomach?
  • Are there any side effects of this medication?

How common are food-drug interactions?

Not many foods or beverages interact with medications, but there are some to be aware of, like alcohol, dairy, grapefruit juice, and leafy greens. Drug interactions also depend on:

  • The total number of medications you take
  • Age, kidney, and liver function
  • Diet and possible drug interactions
  • Medical conditions
  • Your genetics
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Does it matter if I take medication on a full or empty stomach? 

Some medicines should be taken on a full or empty stomach, while the timing of other medications does not matter. It is always important to speak to a doctor or pharmacist to see what time of day you should take your medications. 

Some ways that you may be advised to take a medication include: 

  • On an empty stomach (one hour before eating or two hours after eating)
  • With food (while eating)
  • On a full stomach (after eating)

Taking your medications at the wrong time can lower their effectiveness and potentially cause stomach pain. 

Bottom Line

If you have any questions about food-drug interactions, have new side effects, or start to feel worse after starting a new medicine, it is a great time to review your medications with a health care provider.

With Mira’s new care option, members can make virtual care appointments for just $5! Just log in to your portal and make an appointment whenever you want to review your medications or schedule lab testing.

Alexis Bryan

Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.