Certain foods can prevent your medications from working, or worse still, cause dangerous side effects.
Here Dr Aisling Hillick, GP at health app, babylonhealth.com , tells us which to watch out for.
Avoid if you take – Blood pressure medicines
Bananas are high in potassium, a good thing, but for those taking medication like Captopril, ACE inhibitors or Angiotensin receptor blockers, avoid large quantities of potassium-rich food like leafy greens and oranges too.
“Mixed with these drugs, these foods can cause high potassium levels,” says Dr Hillick.
Bananas are something to avoid if you take blood pressure medication
“Too much can cause irregular heartbeats and palpitations.”
Tell your GP if you’re taking potassium or diuretics alongside blood pressure medication .
Avoid if you take – Cough medicines
If you’re taking certain cough medicines then don’t eat limes
Be careful with limes or Seville oranges if you’re taking cough medicines with dextromethorphan.
“Citrus foods can interfere with the process that breaks down the drug causing more of it to get in your body,” says Dr Hillick.
“This can lead to side effects like hallucinations or drowsiness.”
The fruits’ effects can last for 24 hours or more so avoid them while you need the cough medicine.
Avoid if you take- Antihistamines, diabetes medicines or painkillers
Alcohol is something to avoid if you take antihistaimines, diabetes medication or painkillers
Medicines often come with a warning to avoid alcohol . This is due to the pressure booze puts on your liver.
“Alcohol, paracetamol and codeine are metabolised by the liver and it will have to work harder to break down alcohol and medications at the same time,” says Dr Hillick.
“This can increase the risk of side effects from the medications, including drowsiness.
“Also, overworking your liver can eventually increase your risk of liver damage.”
Avoid if you take – Bronchodilators for asthma
People who take bronchodilators for asthma should avoid coffee
These help patients to breathe more easily by relaxing the muscles in the lungs and widening airways.
“Common side effects of these include palpitations, nervousness and excitability. When mixed with caffeine these risks are increased,” says Dr Hillick.
Too much caffeine can also limit their effectiveness in an emergency so speak to your GP if you are taking them but need caffeine too.
Avoid if you take – Anticoagulants
Leafy greens might be part of a healthy diet but you should avoid them if you take anticoagulants
Leafy greens are part of a healthy diet but when you’re taking anti blood-clotting medicines, like Warfarin, you need to be careful not to suddenly up your leafy green intake.
“They are high in vitamin K which helps blood to clot,” says Dr Hillick.
“Warfarin is designed to prevent the production of vitamin K so if you suddenly eat more greens, this will interfere with the medicine.”
Avoid if you take – Heart medications
Black liquorice is bad for people taking heart medications
Liquorice lowers potassium in your body, which can be dangerous for those with certain heart conditions.
“Low levels of potassium can increase side effects associated with digoxin, used to treat congestive heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.
“Diuretics to treat high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart failure and liver and kidney problems, also lower potassium, so taken with liquorice they cause levels to fall.
“This causes weakness, cramps and irregular heart rhythms,” says Dr Hillick.
Avoid if you take – Antibiotics
If you’re taking antibiotics then avoid milk
“Ciprofloxacin and tetracycline should be taken with a glass of water one hour before a meal or two hours after you have eaten,” says Dr Hillick.
“Food will interfere with the way these medications are absorbed by your body and dairy products, such as milk, will have the same effect.”
So while it might be tempting to take antibiotics with a glass of milk, don’t.
Avoid if you take – Statins
Grapefuit can be bad if you take statins
If you are taking statins to lower blood pressure then grapefruit, or its juice, won’t provide a healthy breakfast.
“Grapefruit contains a chemical that stops the body breaking down statins.
“This will lead to raised levels in your body which means you will be at risk of side effects,” warns Dr Hillick. “Patients might experience muscle aches and pains as a result.”
Avoid if you take – Antidepressants
Smoked salmon is a no no if you’re taking antidepressants
Check with your GP if your antidepressants come under the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) category before you indulge in smoked meats such as salami, smoked salmon or chicken liver pate.
“The problem is that these foods are rich in tyramine, a compound caused by the breakdown of amino acid.
“When mixed with MAOIs, it can cause tyramine levels to spike leading to dangerously high blood pressure.”
Other foods on the risk list include strong or aged cheese and other smoked or processed meats and fish.
Avoid if you take – Ritalin
If you take ritalin you should avoid chocolate
“The caffeine in chocolate can have a stimulant effect. When taken with a stimulant drug such as Ritalin, used to treat ADHD, patients need to tread carefully,” warns Dr Hillick.
“Of course, an occasional cup of coffee, caffeinated soft drink or chocolate bar is fine, but high levels of caffeine should definitely be avoided by people taking this drug.
“Otherwise they might find themselves suffering from jitters, sleeplessness and palpitations.”