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Diet & Health

These 10 Food-Drug Combinations Can Harm or Kill You



Medicine you shouldn't take with food

Medications should be taken as prescribed and with proper care, but while most people know not to combine them with alcohol or other prohibited drugs, not many are aware that mixing certain medicine with certain food could also prove dangerous and even deadly.

Jack Fincham, a professor of pharmaceutical and administrative sciences at the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy in the United States, believes this lack of awareness is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. To help educate the public, he has put together a list of the 10 most common and dangerous food-drug combinations that should be avoided, and some might surprise you:

1. Warfarin and Leafy Greens

Raw spinach in brown bowl

Warfarin (Coumadin) is a powerful blood thinner (anticoagulant) generally used to prevent thrombosis, a condition that leads to the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels. The drug should not be consumed with leafy greens like Kale, beet greens, spinach and other greens that are rich in Vitamin K.

Apparently, too much Vitamin K can lead to blood clotting, which counteracts the anticlotting effects of Warfarin and increases the risk of developing a blood clot. Fincham says you don’t need to completely eliminate leafy greens from your diet while taking Coumadin, but their consumption should be limited.

2. Statin Drugs and Grapefruit

Cut Grapefruit

Statin drugs are designed to lower cholesterol, but a compound in grapefruit and grapefruit juice binds with the active ingredient in the drugs and prevents them from effectively doing their job.

Considering that cholesterol is formed when our bodies are at rest, Fincham advices people suffering from high cholesterol to take statin drugs at bedtime so that they can safely enjoy a grapefruit in the morning.

3. Blood Pressure Drugs and Dried Fruits

Dried Fruits

The main goal of blood pressure drugs is to control blood pressure and bring it back down to a normal level, a goal compromised by potassium.

Fincham warns people taking blood pressure drugs that are ACE inhibitors or diuretic to avoid potassium-rich food like dried fruits, bananas, avocados, oranges and leafy greens, as well any salt substitutes. Consuming too much potassium together with such medication can lead to an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations.

4. Antibiotics and Dairy Products

Milk pouring into cereal

Antibiotics treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria; however, according to Dr. Richard Liebowitz, an internist at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and other calcium-fortified foods (e.g. Orange Juice) impair the body’s ability to absorb the medicine and undermines their ability to cure infections.

If you’re going to take antibiotics, it’s best to consume the dairy product or calcium-fortified food of your choice an hour or two beforehand.

5. Antithyroid Drugs and High-Iodine Foods

Fresh seafood

Antithyroid drugs interfere with the body’s production of thyroid hormones by preventing iodine absorption in the stomach, thereby reducing common symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism.

People with a high-iodine diet require higher doses that result in a greater incidence of side effects, particularity rashes, hives and liver disease. Food with high iodine content include seafood and seaweed, such as kelp and nori, and to a lesser extent eggs, meat and dairy products

6. Digoxin, Herbs and High-Fiber Diets

Various whole wheat breads and grains

Digoxin help prevent heart failure by strengthening the contraction of the heart muscle, slowing the heart rate and promoting the elimination of fluid from body tissues. Dietary fiber — insoluble fibers like wheat bran, especially — can slow down the absorption of the medication and lessen its effectiveness.

To prevent this, it’s best to take Digoxin at least two hours before or after eating fiber-rich food.

7. MAO Inhibitors and Aged Cheeses

Cheese board and bread

MAO inhibitors are used to treat depression, Parkinson’s disease and a few other mental disorders. Consuming foods that are rich in tyramine (e.g. smoked meats or fish, red wines, aged cheeses, fermented or pickled foods, dried fruits, avocado, soy sauce, fava beans and chocolate) together with the drug could result in a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

Fincham advises people to avoid these foods while taking MAO inhibitor or anti-mycobacterial drugs because they “can lead to a hypertensive crisis.”

8. Anti-Mycobacterial Drugs and Tyramine-Rich Foods

Smoked sausages

Anti-mycobacterial drugs help kill bacteria that cause tuberculosis. As with MAO Inhibitors, they don’t mix well with foods rich in tyramine and can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

Consult your doctor before mixing the two.

9. Erectile Dysfunction Drugs and Grapefruit

Sliced Grapefruit

Making the list for the second time, the usually-healthy grapefruit (even in small quantities) is also said to boost blood levels of erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra. While some men may see this as a boon, the interaction could trigger headaches symptomatic of fatal or near fatal conditions, flushing, or low blood pressure.

The Harvard Medical School advises grapefruit-addicts taking erectile dysfunction drugs to switch to orange juice or any other citrus fruit juice when it comes time for love-making.

10. Any Medicine and Alcohol

Alcohol and medicine

Considering that our bodies treat alcohol as a poison, mixing the substance with most prescription and non-prescription drugs not only decreases their effectiveness but may also make them harmful or even toxic.

Even a small amount of alcohol could intensify the negative side effects of medication, so you’d be best advised to avoid mixing the two.

Things to Remember

Old Woman Taking Medicine

According to the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a food and drug interaction occurs when the efficiency and effectiveness of a medicine is altered by the food taken with it. There are few things to remember about food-drug interactions:

  1. Always read the label of the medicine prescribed by your doctor or purchased over-the-counter and follow the instructions provided carefully to make sure you take them safely. Consult your physician or pharmacist if there is something you don’t understand.
  2. No matter how good of an idea it might seem, never take medication with alcohol. Alcohol intensifies the negative side effects of almost every medicine on the market.

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Diet & Health

Science Has Found The Best Way To Wash Pesticides Off Apples



Apple on tree

Polishing an apple with your shirt might get rid of some dust and dirt, but removing the pesticides will require a little more work.

New research has found that washing apples with baking soda, the common yet miraculous household product, could be all you need to eliminate most of the residues on the surface of apples and other fruits.

Pesticides have long been used to increase crop yield, but rising concerns over their adverse effect on human health has many people talking. While the exact effects depend on the type of pesticides and the amount eaten, the World Health Organization says that certain pesticides could harm the developing nervous systems of fetuses and children.

A growing number of people have opted for organic food as way of avoiding the chemicals, but organic food usually command a price premium and there is no guarantee that pesticides were used. In fact, the organic, naturally-occurring pesticides that some organic farms use aren’t necessarily safer.

Washing has been and remains the standard practice used by both consumers and the food industry to remove pesticides, but some of the plant-protecting compounds that get absorbed by the skin of fruits and vegetables might be more resilient to current cleaning methods. To find the best method, Lili He, Assistant Professor at the ‎University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues conducted a study in which they applied two common pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole, which past research has shown can penetrate apple peels, and the insecticide phosmet — to organic Gala apples and then washed apples with three different liquids: tap water, a 1 percent baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce.

The baking soda solution proved the most effective at removing pesticides, eliminating 80 percent of the thiabendazole and 96 percent of the phosmet, respectively, after 12 and 15 minutes of the fruits being soaked. Plain tap water and the bleach solution were far less effective.

The different percentages are likely due to thiabendezole’s greater absorption into the apple. Mapping images showed that thiabendazole had penetrated up to 80 micrometers deep into the apples, while phosmet was detected at a depth of only 20 micrometers.

So, there you have it, if washing is your preferred method of removing pesticides off your fruits and vegetables, using a baking soda solution is the way to go. If all other options are to be considered, then peeling your produce is probably your best bet.

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Diet & Health

You Binge Eat Because You’re Sleep-Deprived



Woman caught eating food

There have been many studies correlating sleep deprivation with a wide range of health risks, including decrease in alertness and increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. But what about a possible link with food cravings?

Researchers have long known that lack of sleep is associated with binge eating or just plain eating uncontrollably whenever and wherever, but a new study published in online journal Sleep suggests that the same chemical mechanism behind the munchies might be why sleep-deprived people not only feel hungrier, but also become buckle in the face of a big chocolate bar.

The study involved 14 volunteers aged 18 to 30, all of whom were first given four nights of either normal (8.5 hours) or interrupted sleep (4.5 hours) and then two meals and unrestricted access to all kind of snacks — both healthy (e.g., fruit and yogurt) and less-healthy options (e.g., chips and cake).

When the researchers monitored their endocannabinoid (eCB) levels, they found that those participants who had been sleep-deprived reported feeling hungrier and tended to eat the less-healthy snacks.

Moreover, they eat nearly double the fat and protein of the well-rested participants and exhibited an exaggerated cycle in their endocannabinoid levels, with an especially high level in the afternoon — around the same time they reported feeling the hungriest.

Endocannabinoids are chemicals that our bodies naturally create to play a part in such physiological processes as appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and memory. They also to activate the same receptors that get people high from consuming marijuana, explaining the temptation for food stemming from sleep deprivation.

Have you ever felt so tired as to almost feel high? Well, this might be the reason…

Scientists hope these findings will lead to further scientific discoveries on food cravings that would aid in the treatment and control of binge eating.

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Diet & Health

Improve Your Gut Health By Eating Mangoes



Fresh Mango

If you suffer from constipation, a mango might just be what the doctor ordered.

A new pilot study carried out by Texas A & M University and published in the the peer-reviewed journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that mangoes contain a combination of polyphenols and fiber that is more effective than an equivalent amount of fiber powder in relieving constipation.

Susanne U. Mertens-Talcott, a corresponding author of the four-week study and an associate professor in the department of nutrition and food science at Texas A & M University, stated:

“Our findings suggest that mango offers an advantage over fiber supplements because of the bioactive polyphenols contained in mangos that helped reduce markers of inflammation and change the make-up of the microbiome, which includes trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in our digestive track. Fiber supplements and laxatives may aid in the treatment of constipation, but they may not fully address all symptoms, such as intestinal inflammation.”

Researchers took 36 adult men and women with chronic constipation and randomly divided them into two groups — a mango group that ate about 300 grams of mango a day (equivalent to about 2 cups or 1 mango) and a fiber group that incorporated the equivalent amount of fiber powder (1 teaspoon or 5 grams of dietary psyllium fiber supplement) into their daily diet.

A food questionnaire was then given to the participants to assess their food intake and ensure their eating habits remained consistent (i.e. equivalent amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein and fat) and measures of constipation severity were taken at the beginning and end of four weeks.

Their analysis revealed that while both the mango and fiber groups improved over the course of the study, mangoes proved more effective in reducing the symptoms of constipation than fiber alone.

Mango supplementation significantly improved constipation status (e.g. stool frequency, consistency and shape), increased short chain fatty acids levels, which indicate improvement of intestinal microbial composition, and helped to reduce certain biomarkers of inflammation.

Mangoes have long been know to be a rich source of dietary fiber, but Texas A & M University’s study is possibly the only study ever to be dedicated to the efficacy of the tasty fruit at relieving constipation.

But as promising as these findings are, the researchers concluded that more research is needed to determine the exact mechanism behind the protective effect of mangoes in constipation and the role mango polyphenols may play in supporting the beneficial effects of fiber.

A mango day keeps your food moving smoothly and easily, right?

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