Could Your Diet Stop Some Medicines From Working?

Fasting regimes like the 5:2 diet may help weight loss, but intermittent fasting may also stop some medications from working well.

Could Your Diet Stop Some Medicines From Working?
Photo: Thinkstock

WHAT’S BEEN SAID: The absorption of some medications is directly linked to when and how often we eat. Senior pharmacist Gina McLachlan from Austin Health in Melbourne advises people who take medications to speak to either their doctor or pharmacist before embarking on a diet.

Some drugs require a full stomach for maximum absorption. If you take the hepatitis C drug telaprevir, 70% less of the drug will make it into your bloodstream when fasting than with a full stomach. Drugs for diabetes can lead to hypoglycaemia if you take a normal dose while fasting, because food slows down digestion. Some drugs irritate your stomach if you’re fasting and will leave you feeling sick; others can be affected by the food you eat.

Too many green leafy vegetables (which are high in vitamin K) can reduce the effect of the blood-thinning drug warfarin. And grapefruit can affect the enzymes in the liver, preventing some drugs from being metabolised properly.

THE BOTTOM LINE: “Some medications need to be taken with food,” says McLachlan. “Anyone changing their diet should be talking to their pharmacist or doctor.”

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