The Art of Pairing: some food-med pairings can be dangerous

Jerry Elprin


December 10, 2018

The Art of Pairing: some food-med pairings can be dangerous

Don’t Eat This if You’re Taking That


That’s the title of the book from AARP by husband-wife authors Madelyn Fernstrom (a nutrition and diet expert) and John Fernstrom, PhD (a neuroscientist and pharmacologist). In it, they warn that some foods you eat and medications you take could work against each other.

Some food-med pairings can be dangerous.

According to the FDA: What you consume will affect how and if your medication works in your body.

A food-drug interaction can:

  • prevent a medicine from working the way it should
  • cause a side effect from a medicine to get worse or better
  • cause a new side effect

A medicine can also change the way your body uses a food. Any of these changes can be harmful.

A few examples from the May 2017 issue of AARP Bulletin:

  • Avoid fish oil supplements if you take blood thinners. Why?
  • Don’t eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice if you take certain statins for high cholesterol, like Lipitor (Atorvastatin), Zocor (Simvastatin) or Mevacor (Lovastatin). Why? 
  • Limit foods containing potassium, like bananas, if you’re taking ACE-inhibitor blood pressure medications. Why? 
  • Limit your daily intake of calcium if you take blood pressure lowering channel-blockers. Why? 
  • Stay away from too much cinnamon if you take blood sugar lowering medicine for diabetes. Why? 


I take five of those types of medications, so not only do I have to remember to take my meds, but also watch what I eat. The thing is at what point should I expect my doctor to warn me as well? That’s why I took control of my health. You only get around 18 minutes at the doctor’s office to discuss your ailments and its hard sometimes to remind which medicine made me ill. That’s why I (with a lot of encouragement) decided to use an mHealth app.  That means mobile health app and not another tracking app. If you decide to download one as well, you should find a reliable one.


There are plenty of them but the one I use asked for a list of my medications. It then reminds me to take my meds, its right dosage I should take and now what food I shouldn’t eat with them. Now when I go to the doctor, I can show them what worked and what didn’t work. I can also keep a journal of which medicine upsets my body in the app. So that my way of keeping track of what particular foods or drinks I can consume while taking my medications. What are yours?