Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Food-Drug Interactions: Something you should probably know more about…

There is no doubt that there is an increasing public awareness about healthy eating, the nutritional values and even healing properties of common food ingredients. But what is probably a lot less known are the potential interactions that food ingredients (and dietary supplements) can have with medication. This is especially of concern for individuals on longer term medications.

I read a recent article published in the summer issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that talked about Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). MNT takes into consideration the medicinal and nutritional properties of food in preventing diseases, increasing medication effectiveness and reducing food-drug complications.

The interactions can be positive (i.e. increase the effectiveness of your medication) or negative (i.e. reduce the effectiveness of your medication or can sometime even be fatal). The major actions of food on medications appear to be on proteins that determine absorption, distribution and elimination. For example, scientific research has shown that any number of medications can be affected by the intake of grapefruit and other fruits that act on the cytochrome P450, a large family of enzymatic proteins that catalyzes the oxidation of substrate molecules. Grapefruit juice may also induce a toxic reaction in older individuals taking antihistamines. Other scientific studies have also shown that a diet high in salt can necessitate a higher dosage of antihypertensive medications for patients suffering from hypertension, which subsequently increases the chance for side effects. The anticoagulant warfarin, often prescribed for patients with heart disease, interacts with vitamin K. Kale and other dark leafy greens are good sources of vitamin K.

Another article published in the summer issue of CURE (a magazine on cancer updates, research and education edited by certified medical professionals) also talks about how interactions between dietary supplements and cancer drugs can reduce treatment effectiveness and can sometimes even be fatal.

If using food and nutrition as a wellness tool is something that interests you, besides learning more about the healing properties of each food ingredient that you regularly use, spend time to learn more about the potential interactions common food ingredients have with common medications. Be your own advocate and talk to your doctors about the topic the next time you go see them. But never assume that they know more than you do.

“Position of the American Dietetic Association: Integration of Medical Nutrition Therapy and Pharmacotheraphy”, Journal of American Dietetic Association, April 2010, p. 950-956

No comments: