Foods and Medications You Should Never Mix

Have you heard the saying “do not drink and drive”? You know that driving under the influence of alcohol can cause serious problems. Especially since you’re not at your best concentration levels for driving. Well, the same applies to foods and medications.

Certain foods can have unwanted side effects when they interact with certain medications. The problem is, most of the foods on the list are actually healthy, and they can even improve your health. However, when paired with certain medications, they cause side effects that can degrade your health and even result in severe problems.

I know most of you have taken medication at some point in your life, no matter how much you support alternative medicine. Whether it’s for infection, illness, or a headache, medicine is part of our lives. If you’ve taken any medication and read the instruction label, you’ve probably read that there might be side effects. And most of these side effects come from mixing medications with foods and other medications. It is always good to consult with the doctor and the pharmacist, but you should also know some basic things.

Foods and Medications You Should Never Mix

Grapefruit and cholesterol medications

Grapefruit actually improves your health and reduces cholesterol levels. If you consume grapefruit on a regular basis, you’ll reduce your cholesterol. However, when your cholesterol levels are high, doctors will probably prescribe statins for you, which are prescription drugs that reduce cholesterol. They work by preventing your body from producing cholesterol and help your body reabsorb the cholesterol that is in your artery walls.

However, when you mix statins and grapefruit, there is an increased chance of side effects. And that applies especially for women and people over 65 years old. Another thing to note: not all statins work the same way. But grapefruit is especially dangerous with statins like Zocor and Lipitor.

Anticoagulants and cranberry juice

One of the most common anticoagulants is warfarin. And that’s the drug tested mostly for interactions with cranberry juice. The precautionary advice is to ditch the cranberry juice and all cranberry products while taking anticoagulants. The reasoning is that the juice can increase blood thinning, and that leads to health complications.

The number of studies on the subject is limited. And that’s why people still stick to the conservative approach of avoiding cranberry juice. Some studies have shown that patients develop infections if consuming cranberry products. Ironically, cranberry juice contains salicylic acid, one of the healthiest acids that have numerous health benefits.

Blood thinners and vitamin K

Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are extremely rich in vitamin K, making them very healthy foods. However, when it comes to vitamin K and blood thinners, the situation is different. Vitamin K interferes with blood thinners and anticoagulants, and causes the medications to be less effective.

Heart patients should be extremely careful with vitamin K. That doesn’t mean you should ditch your intake of vitamin K foods completely. You just have to be careful to not increase your intake suddenly. Vitamin K is an essential part of many chemical processes in your body. And kale and spinach are very healthy on their own. However, you can consume foods that contain small amounts of vitamin K, such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash. But make sure to consult with your doctor first.

Blood pressure medications and bananas

Another interesting combination. The reason why bananas are banned from the list of foods to eat when you take blood pressure medications is potassium. The mineral can cause problems if its levels are too high. When you consume too many potassium-rich foods, you may experience an irregular heartbeat, heart palpations and much more. And we know that an irregular heartbeat can be deadly for people with high blood pressure.

The interesting aspect is that potassium is actually important in managing high blood pressure. The mineral lessens the effects of sodium, helping to ease tension in your blood vessel walls. However, when combined with blood pressure medications, bananas and other potassium-rich foods are banned.

The list also includes apricots, cantaloupe, fat-free yogurt, lima beans, mushrooms, oranges, peas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, raisins, tuna, and prunes.

Heart failure medication and black licorice

Just put the black licorice back, along with any other licorice product. The reason is black licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a chemical that can cause an irregular heartbeat. Digoxin is the most common heart failure medication, and that one has been tested with black licorice. Additionally, licorice inhibits the effectiveness of heart failure medications. The chemical reduces potassium levels, and the result is abnormal heart rhythms. As a side note, the chemical is a sweetening compound.

Decreased potassium is very dangerous for people taking heart failure medications.

Thyroid medications and walnuts

The fun fact is that walnuts contain selenium, a mineral that can aid in the functioning of your thyroid. However, when you take thyroid medications (mostly the thyroid hormone levothyroxine), walnuts should be avoided. As with all other high fiber foods, walnuts make it hard for your body to effectively absorb the synthetic hormone.

When taking thyroid medications, you should avoid calcium supplements and magnesium supplements. Some other high fiber foods you should avoid include broccoli, peas, lentils, black beans, split peas, Brussels sprouts, and artichokes.

Bacterial infections and cured meat

Curing is the addition of a combination of sugar, nitrite, nitrate, or salt to meat. The purpose is preservation. These meats last longer, and in normal cases, you can consume them for a year. But when you take medications for bacterial infections, you should skip cured meat. That means no salami, no dried sausages, and definitely no processed cheeses. They contain tyramine, an amino acid that can cause harmful spikes in your blood pressure when mixed with medications for bacterial infections. This amino acid can be found in any food that is smoked, fermented, or cured.

Tetracycline antibiotics and dairy products

When consuming tetracycline antibiotics, you should completely avoid dairy products like milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. Dairy products contain calcium, and when consumed with tetracycline antibiotics, the calcium binds to the antibiotics. In that situation, your body can’t absorb the antibiotics. The best way to consume tetracycline antibiotics is on an empty stomach, or at least one hour before a meal or two hours afterwards. Drink a full glass of water with your antibiotics.


National Kidney Foundation
University of Maryland

What do you think ?

Leave a Comment

Like what you're reading?

Subscribe to our top stories

Also on Ritely