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Diet and Nutrition

Warning: Diet-Drug Interactions!

Diet-drug interactions are becoming more frequent due to the increasing number of medications that are available in the marketplace, number of drugs taken by consumers, and number of specialists in health care. Since older adults tend to take more medications (an average of eight drugs per day) over long periods of time, they are particularly susceptible to diet-drug interactions.

How can drugs affect my diet?

Drugs can (1) alter food intake by changing appetite, interfering with taste or smell, causing nausea or vomiting, or causing dryness or inflammation of the mouth, (2) alter nutrient absorption by changing the acidity of the digestive tract, altering the movement of the digestive tract, damaging intestinal cells, or binding to nutrients, (3) alter nutrient metabolism by competing with nutrients, or (4) alter nutrient excretion by changing reabsorption in the kidneys. Examples of common interactions include:

How can my diet affect drugs?

Foods can (1) alter drug absorption by changing the acidity of the digestive tract, altering the rate of absorption, competing for absorption sites, or binding to drugs, (2) alter drug metabolism by competing with drugs, or (3) alter drug excretion by changing the acidity of urine. Examples of common interactions include:

What are some ways to lessen my risk of diet-drug interactions?

This article originally appeared in Nutri-bytes (December 2009), a service of the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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Last Reviewed: Dec 03, 2009

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati