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DEADLY COMBOS

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

You’ve heard that you shouldn’t mix medication and alcohol, but there are many other drinks that don’t go down well with certain medications. Gurjyot Kaur & Khevna Pandit tell you about the drink and drug combinations to steer clear of

Taking medicines is definitely not our favourite thing to do. However, when we are sick, we have to swallow our pride and some tablets with it. While you’re probably aware that certain drinks can reduce the effect of some medication — coffee is often quoted as interfering with the effect of medication — some can even lead to harmful reactions if combined with medicines. To shed some light on the matter, we spoke         with Dr. Rajeshwari Shetty, head of dietetics at SL Raheja Hospital – A Fortis Associate, Luke Coutinho, MD alternative medicine and founder of wellness website purenutrition.me, and Dr. Suman Agarwal, celebrity nutritionist and founder of Selfcare – Health Design. Here are a few drinks and beverages you should be cautious about consuming, especially if you’re on a course of medication.

Grapefruit juice
Grapefruit juice is often suggested as a weight loss aid, and is high in vitamin C and potassium, which our body needs in order to function properly. However, grapefruit juice can have an effect on the way some medications work, especially if you are taking medication for high blood pressure or arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat).

Dr. Rajeshwari: Consuming grapefruit juice with cholesterol-lowering drugs increases the amount of the drugs available to our bodies, amplifying their effects and leading to dangerous side effects such as muscle and liver damage. It may also increase the effects of calcium channel blockers, so it’s best to avoid drinking this if you are on such medication.

Coffee
Who doesn’t love coffee! We all use it for a quick pick-me-up in the morning to get us going on a work day. But the caffeine in coffee can cause severe reactions with certain medicines. Caffeine is a stimulant by itself and thus should be avoided when taking asthma prescriptions.

Luke: Certain antidepressants tend to make you feel anxious and jittery (as a side effect) and caffeine can aggravate that. It can also cause blood pressure to plummet. Caffeine and tannins in beverages can also block the absorption of folic acid medications.

Alcohol
Anything consumed is excess is generally shunned and alcohol is no different; you need to be extra careful with alcohol when you’re on any type of medication. Alcohol’s interaction with some medications may cause nausea, headaches, a change in blood pressure and dizziness. It can also put you at risk of internal bleeding and heart issues.

Luke: Alcohol exaggerates the behaviour of drugs, so if taken together it’s as if you are taking a higher dose of drugs and the resulting side effects are also much more pronounced. This is particularly seen with anti-anxiety and anti-depression medicines, and a person can experience decreased level of alertness and concentration. In some cases, you can even experience suicidal thoughts. Alcohol taken with antihistamines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause enhanced sedation.

Green tea
Green tea is one of the best things known to man, but you should stay away from it if you’ve been prescribed sedatives or anti-anxiety medication.

Luke: Green tea contains tannins and polyphenols that interact with drugs in a negative way by targeting absorption, efflux, metabolism or elimination of certain drugs. People who are on blood thinning drugs should also avoid green tea because the vitamin K content in green tea can render the drug ineffective. Green tea can also interact with antidepressants and cause a huge increase in blood pressure.

Energy drinks
Energy drinks are generally packed with sugar and have tremendously high amounts of caffeine, which is why they can react with certain medication leading to undesirable effects such as gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, irregular heart beat and dehydration.

Dr. Suman: Energy drinks interact with ace inhibitors (drugs used for the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure) by increasing the absorption of potassium. With increased levels of potassium, the effectiveness of these medicines can be decreased, resulting in heart issues.

Milk
Milk is high in calcium and it could have an effect on the absorption of antibiotics such as tetracyclines and ciprofloxacin (Cipro). This happens because the calcium in milk binds to antibiotics to form insoluble compounds.

Dr. Rajeshwari: Calcium-rich drinks and foods can interfere with the effectiveness of thyroid medication. Wait at least four hours after taking the medication to drink any calcium-rich beverage. The classic family of antibiotics that cannot be taken with milk are tetracycline drugs because the calcium in the milk binds to the antibiotic and prevents absorption.

FOODS TO STEER CLEAR OF
Here are a few foods that you should be wary of if you are on medication:

Green leafy vegetables: Blood-thinning drugs can interfere with vitamin K-dependant clotting factors. Eat your greens in moderation if you’re on blood thinning medication.

Bananas: Bananas are great because of their high potassium, but eating them when you are already taking medicines high in potassium can cause irregular heartbeats and palpitations.

Salami: Mixing salami with medicines for bacterial infections can cause your blood pressure to spike as salami contains the amino acid tyramine.

Walnuts: Avoid walnuts if you’re on thyroid medication as they can prevent your body from absorbing the medication effectively.

Black liquorice: Medicine used to treat heart issues such as abnormal heartbeat should not be mixed with black liquorice as it can lead to an irregular heartbeat.

 

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