New AARP book raises awareness of food, medication interactions


Millions of Americans age 50-plus take prescription drugs, yet few know the health risks of taking them along with certain foods and over-the-counter (OTC) supplements. Some blood thinners, for example, can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat and heart attack if taken with everyday foods like spinach, kale and tomatoes.

To address these kinds of food and drug interactions, AARP and Skyhorse Publishing have released a revised edition of “Don’t Eat This If You’re Taking That: The Hidden Risks of Mixing Food and Medicine” (Skyhorse Publishing paperback; May 2, 2017, $17.99). Written by Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., and her husband John Fernstrom, Ph.D., the book provides a consumer’s guide to understanding how mixing prescription medications with certain foods and supplements can lessen their effectiveness or even cause a serious health problem.

“Most people are surprised to learn that even healthy foods can interfere with the actions of many medicines,” Madelyn Fernstrom said. “Small changes in what you eat can make a big difference in making sure your medications are working the way your doctor intended.”

Examples of the book’s advice include:
•Avoid eating grapefruit when taking cholesterol medicine
•Steer clear of red wine, hard cheese and chocolate while on certain antidepressants
•Know which of the many herbal supplements can affect blood pressure

Covering everything from antidepressants to herbal supplements, the revised edition focuses on which foods to enjoy and which to avoid when taking the most common prescription drugs. The book is divided into eight sections covering the most widely-used medications, including antidepressants, pain relievers, blood thinners, diabetes drugs, antacids, cholesterol drugs, blood pressure medications and heart medicines.

“This book will help anybody tackle the complexities of food and medicine interaction,” said Jodi Lipson, director of AARP Books. ‘Don’t Take This If You’re Eating That’ is especially useful for people taking more than one medication.”

Each chapter of the book also features a “Dietary Supplements Alert” box providing up-to-date information on drug interactions with over-the-counter vitamins and minerals.