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Food and Medication Interactions: The Dark Side of Healthy Foods

Eating healthy and clean has become a large part of our pop culture since the organic movement decades ago. Articles are published every day about what the new superfood is and what we should eat to fill our bodies with vitamins and antioxidants. Most superfoods do provide heaps of nutrients, yet there is a dark side to these superfoods for some people with chronic diseases. Here are four foods that can cause issues:

Kale

One of the most popular superfoods, kale is lauded for its fiber, vitamins and minerals. The leafy green vegetable isn’t just a pretty face. Kale contains roughly 112.8 grams of vitamin K, which can be dangerous to people who take blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot, so when it’s taken with a blood thinner, it decreases the medication’s effectiveness and makes the blood more likely to clot.

Grapefruit

It’s the fruit that appears in almost every cereal commercial on TV. Although grapefruit themselves are a rotund fruit, it’s known in health food and diet communities to help trim your waistline. In addition, vitamin C is abundant in grapefruit. However, it can negatively affect prescribed medications also.

On MayoClinic.org, Katherine Zeratsky, registered and licensed dietician, explains that chemicals in grapefruit interfere with the metabolism of certain medications that:

  • Fight infections
  • Reduce cholesterol
  • Treat high blood pressure
  • Treat heart problems
  • Prevent organ rejection in transplant recipients

Metabolism is the rate at which your body breaks down food, drink or medication. If your body breaks down medication too fast, it won’t have enough time to take effect. Conversely, if your body breaks it down too slow, the amount of medication in your body may rise to a dangerous level.

Bananas

They make on-the-go snacking easy, are full of vitamins and minerals, keep bowels regular and are necessary to slapstick comedy. One of the numerous nutrients in bananas is potassium, which helps with muscle contractions and nerve impulses

However, you can have too much of a good thing. Excess potassium can cause an irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Potassium doesn’t play nicely with some medications. For instance, it can negatively interact with ACE inhibitors (used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure) because they increase the levels of potassium in the body.

Do you or a loved one have high blood pressure? Download our quick and easy blood pressure log to help you monitor your levels.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is the DIY of breakfast foods. Fruits, seeds, nuts and spices form endless combinations and flavors to make oatmeal tasty and interesting. 

Oatmeal is well-known for its high fiber levels, which can regulate the digestive tract, bowel movements and blood sugar levels by slowing absorption; along with the add-ins that come with their own health (or non-health) benefits. 

Oatmeal itself is very healthy, but if your add-ins are sugar, cream or lots of dried fruit, you might as well have a sundae. Sugar and cream are obvious villains. However, dried fruit can be dangerous too because some have added sugar. High levels of sugar can have numerous adverse effects on your health, such as an increased risk of depression.

When the next superfood emerges to rescue us from dastardly cupcakes or soft drinks, it could be a villain in disguise. Always read the nutrition facts on the packaging and talk to your physician or dietician about a tailored diet plan for you.

If you need assistance preparing healthy meals, ComForCare Home Care can help. Caregivers can accompany you to the grocery store and help you cook foods that follow your doctor’s orders. Call 800-886-4044 or find a location near you to learn more about our meal preparation services.


Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 10, 2016. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

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