6 Foods That Can Interfere With Your Medications

By Kristy Podruchny

When you get a new prescription for medications, one of the first things that you usually do is talk to your doctor about possible interactions with other medications that you are taking.  What many people don’t realize is that medications can also interact with certain foods.  If you’re on certain medications, you should be careful about what you include in your diet.

Go easy on grapefruit
Grapefruit may be delicious and may be packed with nutrients; but it can change the way the body responds to medications.  Allergy medications become less effective when you eat grapefruit, and cholesterol medications become more powerful.


You may need to be careful with milk
Your body finds it harder to make use of antibiotics in the presence of milk in the system.  Components of milk such as casein, calcium and magnesium can interfere with antibiotics.  When you’re on these medications, you need to talk to your doctor about how safe it is to drink milk.

Chocolate doesn’t go well with medications

Strong, dark chocolate can make the ADHD drug Ritalin more powerful, and tone down the effect of sleeping aids like Ambien.  It can even send your blood pressure soaring if you take certain medications for depression.

Coffee can interfere with drugs

If you like a shot of coffee every now and then, you’ll need to be careful if you take antipsychotic drugs.  These drugs can become weaker in the presence of coffee.  Aspirin and allergy drugs such as epinephrine can become stronger in the presence of coffee.

Watch it when you eat foods rich in vitamin K

Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale are rich in vitamin K.  The vitamin can interfere with the way blood thinning drugs like Warfarin work.  While you can certainly include such vegetables in your diet, you need to make sure that you eat a consistent amount each day so that the quality of your blood does not fluctuate from one day to the next.

Ginseng works the other way with blood thinners
While vitamin K weakens the effect of blood thinning drugs, ginseng and ginger add to the effects of these drugs.  If you take powerful blood thinners, taking ginger or ginseng in addition can boost their effect so greatly as to cause internal bleeding.  Ginseng can interfere with MAO inhibitors like antidepressants, as well, and lead to headaches and hyperactivity.

Just because food substances are natural doesn’t mean that they cannot interfere with your medications.  Many foods contain components that can powerfully boost or lower the effects of drugs.  It’s important to speak to your doctor about these effects before you start with a prescription.

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