Food-Drug Interactions: Foods that Affect the Way Medications Work

Food-Drug Interactions: Foods that Affect the Way Medications Work

Did you know that what you eat can affect the way your medications work? Many people have prescribed medications for everything from an illness to high blood pressure. These medications can each have an interaction with the foods you eat. Some foods can intensify or weaken the medications you take which can be harmful to your health over time. Other foods can weaken the medications you are taking making them less effective in treating the infection or medical condition. For this reason, it is important to know how the medications you take to interact with certain foods and drinks.

Top Food-Drug Interactions

According to the FDA, most medications have at least one food-drug interaction. This common food-drug interaction list should be used as a starting point for your research into possible interactions your medication may have.

Food-Drug Interactions with Antihistamines

Both prescription and over the counter antihistamines have an interaction with alcohol that may make you drowsier than the medication typically do alone.

Food-Drug Interactions with Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen can cause damage to your liver and this risk is increased if you drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day.

Food-Drug Interactions with NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medications are known to cause stomach bleeding. Just like with Acetaminophen, this risk is increased if you drink three or more alcoholic beverages per day.

Food-Drug Interactions with Asthma Medications such as Albuterol

It is important to ask you pharmacist about food interactions as they differ among the types of medication used. You should always avoid caffeine and alcohol as they can cause severe side effects such as rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and headache.

Food-Drug Interactions with Beta Blockers

These medications should be taken with food to prevent the medication from lowering your blood pressure too much.

Food-Drug Interactions with Diuretics

You may take diuretics with food if they cause nausea. You should also ask your doctor or pharmacist if the diuretic you are prescribed increases your potassium levels. If so, you should avoid bananas, oranges, and green leafy vegetables as they may increase the potassium levels in your bloodstream.

Food-Drug Interactions with Statins

Many statins interact with grapefruit juice, so it is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist about this possible interaction. You should also avoid alcohol as it can increase the risk of liver damage.

Food-Drug Interactions with Nitrates

You should avoid alcohol while taking nitrates as the interaction may cause dangerously low blood pressure.

Food-Drug Interactions with Anticoagulants

While anticoagulants can be taken with or without food, it is important to speak with your doctor before changing your diet. You should avoid alcohol as it may affect the dosage of your medication.

Food-Drug Interactions with Acid Reflux Medications

Each individual acid reflux medication may interact with food differently. Some should be taken an hour before meals, some can be taken on an empty stomach or with food. You should always consult your doctor or pharmacist about the proper use of these medications.

Food-Drug Interactions with Antibiotic Medications

The risk of food-drug interactions with antibiotics are relatively low, but before taking any antibiotic ask your pharmacist about any food-drug interactions they may have. It is important to note that sunlight can cause negative reactions in people using some antibiotic types.

Food-Drug Interactions with Antidepressants/Anti-psychotics

You should avoid caffeine and alcohol when taking an antidepressant or antipsychotic medications.

Food-Drug Interactions with Sleep Aids

Avoid taking these types of medications with food as a meal may make it more difficult to fall asleep. You should also avoid alcohol as it will intensify the effects of the medication and may be dangerous.

Food-Drug Interactions with Osteoporosis Medications

Food-Drug Interactions: Foods that Affect the Way Medications WorkThese medications will not work if not taken on an empty stomach. Once you take the medications you should not lay down for 30-60 minutes and not before eating your first meal of the day. You should not take any other dietary supplements for at least 30 minutes after taking these medications.

This list is only a guide for what to look for when prescribed medications. If you need information about a particular medication, you should speak with your pharmacist to ensure you are using your prescribed medication properly. Most prescriptions and over the counter medications come with labels that tell you special precautions to take while taking the medication. However, these labels may not be inclusive and there may be more insight your pharmacist can offer you.

Where to Find More Information About Specific Medications

Each medication has a guide called a med guide that is available to patients. These guides contain any interactions as well as potential side effects. In addition to this information, the med guide will inform patients of when to contact a doctor regarding certain side effects. A med guide was created for certain medications to inform patients of potential risks associated with the medication as well as how to avoid these risks.

Another form of information is called the patient package insert. This packet includes information about your medication and how to use it. Pharmacists are required to hand out these packets with any medications that contain estrogen and birth control prescriptions. This packet can answer general questions about your medications.

Specialized Pharmacies

While your local corner pharmacy may be great for getting a traditional prescription and over the counter medications, a compounding pharmacy can offer you a greater variety of medication formats. These may include liquid medications or specially formulated medications to help with any condition you may have. A compounding pharmacist may also be able to answer complex questions about potential food-drug interactions and help you find alternative ways to avoid these interactions.


At Compounding Pharmacy of America, we are focused on helping patients find the medications and formats that work best for them. We can mix medications at strengths that may not be available at your local corner pharmacy. We invite you to look into our custom medication services today and we look forward to helping you find the medications that work best for you.

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About Matt Poteet, Pharm.D.

Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding. He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Read More About Matthew Poteet, PharmD