Is Your Diet Making Your Medications Dangerous?

You’ve probably heard warnings about drug-food interactions such as how grapefruit can interact with prescription drugs. You may have seen it written on a pill bottle, or been told by a well-meaning friend as you were about to dig into a nice juicy grapefruit.

For many people, that’s where the awareness ends. They just have a vague idea that grapefruit and prescriptions don’t mix. But that leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

  • How does grapefruit affect drugs?
  • Does it intensify their effects or reduce them? 
  • Is it dangerous? 
  • Are there other drug-food interactions you should know about?

We’re going to answer these questions. Once you know more about how foods can affect the prescription drugs you take, you can be confident that your medications are doing their job properly.

Before we start, here’s an important reminder: whenever you’re in doubt, talk to your doctor or pharmacist!

How Grapefruit Affects Drugs

Believe it or not, one glass of grapefruit juice or a single grapefruit is enough to change the way your body breaks down drugs, and the effects can last up to three days! This is also true for some other closely-related fruits: Seville oranges, tangelos, pomelos and Minneolas. 

That’s because these fruits have a class of chemicals that disrupt proteins in your liver and small intestine. And those proteins are responsible for breaking down certain drugs.

By disrupting those proteins, the fruit can slow down the way your body processes medications. The result is increased levels of the drug in your blood and intensified side effects—which can be dangerous.

Here’s a list of common types of medications that can interact with grapefruit, and what types of effects it causes:

  • Cholesterol medications: increased chances of muscle weakness, pain, and kidney damage.
  • Blood pressure medications: increased chance of a rapid drop in blood pressure which can be dangerous.
  • Heart rhythm medications: can cause dangerous heart rhythm changes.
  • Depression and anxiety medications: can cause dizziness and excessive sleepiness.
  • Erectile dysfunction medications: increased dizziness and low blood pressure.

Should I Stop Eating Grapefruit?

Grapefruit can offer many health benefits. To name just a few, it’s high in fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants—yet low in calories.

So if you can include it in your diet, you should. And the chances are that you can. Grapefruit only affects a relatively small number of drugs. The best idea is to speak to your doctor or pharmacist and take advantage of their expertise.

Other Drug-Food Interactions

There are many other possible drug-food interactions that you may not know about. Here are some you should be aware of in case you’re taking any of the following drugs.

  • Potassium-rich foods (bananas, avocados, beets, potatoes, etc) can interact with ACE inhibitor medications, leading to arrhythmia and heart palpitations.
  • Milk and other dairy products can stop antibiotics from working. You should leave a two-hour window between eating dairy and taking the antibiotic (both before and after).
  • Spinach, kale, cabbage, and broccoli have high levels of vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. This can counteract the effects of blood-thinning medications. 
  • A high-fibre diet slows the rate that your stomach empties, which can slow the rate that some medications are absorbed.
  • Black licorice or licorice root supplements contain a compound that can counteract heart rhythm medications 

Final Words

Now you know a little more about how grapefruit can interact with your prescription drugs, and some other common drug-food interactions. Remember that there are many forms of each type of drug listed in this post. So just because you’re on blood pressure meds doesn’t mean you need to swear off grapefruit.

It all depends on the exact drug, your diet, and a range of other factors. As you can see, it gets a little complicated. So whenever you’re being prescribed a new medication or notice an increase in a drug’s side effects, don’t hesitate to bring it up with your doctor or pharmacist. Bon appetite!

happy person managing diabetes

How to Manage Your Diabetes

Simple Ways to Manage Your Diabetes

One factor that differentiates diabetes from many other diseases is how extensively it can be controlled through lifestyle adjustments. When you’re living with diabetes, you have the real power to minimize its impact. Even small changes can make serious improvements to your quality of life.

Since the disease is affected by many different aspects of your lifestyle, there are a lot of options when it comes to managing diabetes. It’s always a good idea to learn what those options are so you can find the ones that work best for you.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, better known as simply “diabetes”, is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The disease comes in several forms but the two most common are diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your pancreas. Type 2 occurs when your body becomes more resistant to insulin, causing sugar to build up in your blood.

Improve Your Eating Habits

It should go without saying that an important part of diabetes management is your diet. If you haven’t already started, you should create a healthy eating plan with the help of a nutritionist or other health care provider, and then try your best to stick to it. The plan should include recommendations on portion sizes as well as what types of food to eat.

Here are some quick tips to remember:

  • Use meal planning to ensure all your meals have a good balance of starches, proteins and fats. 
  • Go for fruits, vegetables and whole grains as much as possible, as these low-carb foods provide fibre to help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
  • Drink less sugar-sweetened beverages. Soda and juices have a lot of empty calories, and can rapidly increase your blood sugar levels. Making a habit of drinking more water can help you avoid them.

Get More Exercise

Exercise helps control diabetes in a number of ways. It lowers your blood sugar, decreases your body’s resistance to insulin, and improves heart health. It can also help you lose weight, improve your circulation, lower the risk of many diabetes-related issues.

Whether it’s aerobics or strength training, any physical activity can help. The most important part is discussing your exercise plan with a health care provider and making it part of your regular schedule. 

Important tips to keep in mind:

  • Dehydration can impact your blood sugar levels, so make sure you drink lots of water while exercising.
  • Keep a close eye on your blood sugar when starting a new exercise plan. If the activity or intensity level is new to you, it can sometimes lower your blood sugar the following day.
  • Take care of your feet. If you’ve been dealing with circulation issues, you may be at risk of foot injuries like ulcers. Proper footwear like custom orthotics can help you protect your feet while exercising.
  • Quitting smoking makes exercising easier, and is one of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar Level

Blood sugar testing is an essential part of managing diabetes. Not only will it help guide your treatment, but it also helps ensure you stay within safe limits. Some of the benefits it offers include:

  • Helps you judge how well you’re meeting your goals
  • Helps you see how exercise and eating habits affect your blood glucose levels
  • Lets you know when your levels are too high or too low

Use Stress Management Techniques

Stress affects blood sugar in several ways. For one, it triggers a hormone response in your body that can raise blood sugar levels. On top of that, when you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress, you might find it hard to stick to your diabetes management plan.

Here are some quick tips to help you cope with stress:

  • Start monitoring and recording your mood when you check your blood sugar levels. This can help you see the impact stress is having on you. If you notice a pattern, it can help you identify the triggers for your stress, so you can manage it in the future.
  • Get some help learning relaxation techniques. Health care providers can teach you about the different methods and help you find the ones that work best for you.

Get Educated

Diabetes treatment and management can be complicated. It involves a lot of planning around many different aspects of your life. This is why diabetes education programs can be very useful. They can help you understand exactly how the disease impacts you, and the best ways for you to minimize those impacts.

Remember: You Have The Power

Making changes to your lifestyle can take some real effort. When you have a long-standing bad habit, it can be hard to break the cycle. If you take the steps to manage your diabetes early on, eventually you will begin seeing improvements to your health, which can be a great motivator.

Remember that you have the power to control your diabetes. By sticking with your diabetes management plan, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start enjoying better health and quality of life.

As a final note, be sure to speak to your doctor for advice if you need help with diabetes in pregnancy, diabetes in children, or if you develop any diabetes complications.