Oil and water, toothpaste and orange juice—some things just don’t go together.
But, while you’re not likely to get sick from downing a glass of OJ after brushing your teeth, other, seemingly safe, combinations can be harmful.
Take for example, nutritious foods and prescription medications. Seems like a match made in healthful heaven, right?
According to Stephen Dahmer, M.D., of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing, food and drinks can affect how much of a medication gets absorbed into the body and how fast it gets metabolized. These interactions can render a prescription ineffective, or increase the risk of experiencing dangerous side effects.
Wholesome foods may have unwholesome effects
It can be hard to spot an imperfect food-prescription pairing.
Here’s a list of five healthy foods that can interact dangerously with common prescriptions:
Grapefruit juice: Vitamin C, fiber and potassium are just a few of the health perks of grapefruit juice. However, just one glass of grapefruit-y goodness can interfere with important intestinal enzymes, making it easier for some 85 different prescriptions to enter the blood stream, including: statins (Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor), immunosuppressants, calcium-channel blockers (Plendil, Sular, Procardia), and benzodiazepines (Valium, Triazolam, Halcion). Dahmer says that this may increase the risk of experiencing side effects from these medications. Kelly O’Connor, R.D., of Mercy Medical Center, warns that certain sodas (Squirt, Fresca, etc.) can also contain grapefruit juice, so it’s important to check the labels of these beverages closely. She also offers a straightforward solution for obtaining the health benefits of grapefruit without the risk: swap it with another sour citrus—the orange. Orange juice offers similar advantages, without the risk.
Bananas: A potassium powerhouse, the banana is typically a good choice for those seeking to reduce their risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. However, eating too many potassium-rich foods (bananas, oranges and green, leafy vegetables) can be problematic if a person is taking ACE inhibitors. Designed to lower blood pressure, these medications also elevate the levels of potassium in the body. According to the FDA, people taking ACE inhibitors (Lotensin, Capoten, Zestril, etc.) may develop dangerous heart palpitations if they over-indulge on foods that are high in potassium. Bananas also contain Tyramine, an amino acid (also found in red wine, soy and certain cheeses) that can negatively interact with MAO inhibitors (Nardil, Parnate)—commonly prescribed to treat depression. O’Connor says that a low-Tyramine diet is typically recommended for people taking MAO inhibitors.
Keep reading to discover 3 more healthy foods that can interact with medications.