When Foods and Medicines Mix

Do you take it with food?  Without?  Is milk a no-no?  What about grapefruit juice?  Knowing how to take your meds is crucial.  Some foods can interact badly and dangerously raise or lower drug levels in your body.  So the short advice, is read the label and talk to your pharmacist.

Here are a few tips to help you mind your meds:

  • Avoid dairy when taking antibiotics. The calcium can bind to the drug and reduce how much of it enters your bloodstream
  • St John’s wort reduces the effectiveness of many drugs including those for erectile dysfunction.
  • Alcohol can increase or decrease effectiveness of certain drugs and because it can slow down your metabolism – it enables medications to stay in your system longer.
  • Avoid taking meds with acidic soft drinks. They can cause the medication to dissolve in the stomach instead of the intestines, destroy the medicines altogether or force time-released meds to dissolve immediately.
  • Caffeine.  Could increase effect of stimulant drugs or decrease the effect of sedatives.


Everything we eat, drink, or swallow is combined and transformed in our bodies through complex chemical processes. As soon as something passes through your lips, eager enzymes in your saliva start to break it apart. That conversion process continues all the way down the pipeline until nutrients (or medicines) are broken into smaller elements that eventually make their way into the bloodstream. For the most part, nutrients (e.g. vitamins, minerals, proteins) are useful as they provide energy, repair cells and provide defense against disease and infections. But sometimes, these very same healthful agents can thwart the action of medicines and vice versa.


Learn about supplements, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines including interactions, side effects, dietary precautions, and more by searching on key word drug information at Medline Plus, a service of the National Institutes of Health.


1 thought on “When Foods and Medicines Mix

  1. Pingback: Medication strips your body of vital nutrients, says pharmacist « Talesfromthelou's Blog

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