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Food-drug interactions to avoid


Do you take prescription medication? If you’re an older adult, chances are you do—according to research published in Gerontologist, 81% of adults ages 57 through 85 take at least one prescription drug.

While many of us are aware of the ways certain prescription medications can interact with each other and with alcohol, we typically don’t pay as much attention to the relationships between prescription drugs and certain foods. AARP.org recently published a list of “8 Scary Food-Drug Interactions,” so we thought we’d share a few.

ACE inhibitors, such as captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec) and lisinopril (Prinivil), increase the amount of potassium in your body, so avoid eating large amounts of potassium-rich foods like bananas, oranges and certain salt substitutes, as too much potassium can lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations.

Antibiotics, including tetracyclines or fluoroquinolones, as well as multivitamins with irons, are not fully absorbed when ingested with dairy products. Wait two hours before ingesting dairy products after taking your pill.

If you take cholesterol-lowering statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor) or simvastatin (Zocor), you should cut grapefruit out of your diet entirely, as the fruit will increase the side effects of the medication, including muscle aches, liver damage and digestive issues. Oranges and lemons, however, are in the clear. 

Leafy greens like spinach, collard greens and turnip greens are full of vitamin K, so they work against the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), which prevents clots by blocking the liver’s production of vitamin K.

For more food-drug interactions to note, read the full list here