Expert Advice: Food and Medication Interactions You Should Avoid

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

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  • Mixing certain foods and drinks with prescription drugs can affect the way the medication is absorbed in your body.

  • Timing and the size of your meals can also have an impact on the bioavailability of the drug.

  • Pay attention to alcohol and dairy consumption, grapefruit, and foods high in tyramine if you’re using certain medications, as they can cause side effects.


While many believe that taking medication is a simple solution to achieve better health, the truth is a bit more complicated.

When you’re taking certain medications, you need to pay attention to your diet as some foods and drinks can have a significant impact on how the medication works in your body.  Certain ingredients can either reduce the effectiveness of your drug or lead to serious side effects.

To help you avoid these dangerous interactions, Benjamin Bowers, founder of, a fully plant-based meal replacement company, talks about the food/drink and medication combinations you should steer clear of in order to avoid certain health risks.

1) Acetaminophen and Alcohol

Alcohol and painkillers can be a recipe for disaster. Mixing alcohol with acetaminophen can put your liver in serious danger.

Acetaminophen is the main compound of a popular hangover cure – Paracetamol and Tylenol. Even though alcohol is generally heavy for your liver, adding these pills to the mix will make the job for your liver much more difficult. So, avoid mixing alcohol with acetaminophen as it can increase the risk of liver toxicity.

2) Antibiotics and Dairy

If you’re on certain antibiotics such as Tetracycline and Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, used to treat a wide variety of infections, you should avoid dairy products.

Mixing dairy with these antibiotics can ruin their healing power. Dairy products can interfere with antibiotics’ absorption in your bloodstream, leaving you vulnerable to infections and putting your health at risk.

3) Statins or Calcium Channel Blockers and Grapefruit

Under specific circumstances, the delicious grapefruit juice can become a risky concoction. This seemingly innocent citrus drink can wreak havoc when combined with certain medications, including calcium channel blockers and statins.

Why can grapefruit juice affect your meds? Because of the CYP3A4 enzymes, which are responsible for metabolizing many drugs.

Grapefruit juice has been shown to interfere with the activity of CYP3A4 enzymes, responsible for metabolizing many drugs. This interference can lead to increased or decreased bioavailability of drugs, meaning that the drug builds up in your body,  which can cause serious health problems. Luckily, grapefruit is the only citrus affecting these meds, so you don’t have to avoid lemonade and other citrus drinks.

4)  MAOIs and Charcuterie Boards

Indulging on a charcuterie board with a glass of wine might seem appealing and relaxing, but it may set your health back immensely if you’re on MAOIs.

These antidepressants require special care when it comes to your diet, as certain foods high in tyramine such as old cheeses and wine can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

5) Never Take Antipsychotics on an Empty Stomach

To reap the full benefits of your antipsychotics, make sure you eat up to 500 calories with it. 500 calories is a lot, so a small meal or a snack won’t be enough.

Experts warn that taking ziprasidone (Geodon) without a proper meal could seriously impact its absorption, reducing its effectiveness.

6) Never Take Hypothyroidism Medication on a Full Stomach

If you’re taking medication for hypothyroidism, make sure to take your pill first thing in the morning, and wait for at least 30 to 60 minutes before starting on your breakfast.

Taking your hypothyroidism medication on an empty stomach, and even before your morning cup of coffee, helps ensure that your body absorbs the correct dosage, and that the medication is effective. Setting your alarm a little earlier than when you actually plan on starting your day can be very efficient if you’re taking this type of medication.