Foods to Avoid When Taking Antibiotics

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When you’re taking medication, the last thing you want to do is reduce its effectiveness by eating or drinking the wrong thing. Food interacts with medicines in three ways -- by blocking absorption of the drug entirely, by slowing down the rate at which your body absorbs it or by interfering with how your body breaks down the medication. When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic or your pharmacist doles out the pills, ask if any particular foods interact with the drug or reduce its effectiveness.

Acidic Foods

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Highly acidic foods such as carbonated beverages, citrus juices, chocolate and tomato-based products like ketchup can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb medications. The worst offender is grapefruit juice and other grapefruit products, which has a long list of medications it interferes with, including antibiotics, according to MayoClinic.com.

Dairy -- Except Yogurt

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Although yogurt offers helpful strains of probiotics, which are good for your gut when taking antibiotics, other forms of dairy can block absorption of drugs because of the calcium. According to Katrina Seidman of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, both calcium and iron affect your body’s ability to absorb quinolones, a type of antibiotic. If you have taken a calcium or iron supplement or eaten food high in either mineral, wait three hours before taking the antibiotic.

High-Fiber Foods

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High-fiber foods, such as lentils, beans, raspberries and whole grains, slow the rate at which your stomach empties, according to nutritionist Madelyn Fernstrom on the "Today" show. This is a good thing when you're trying to eat less and lose weight, but not good when you're taking antibiotics -- it also slows down the rate of the medication's absorption into your bloodstream.

Tips

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You should also avoid alcohol when on antibiotics. Although it doesn't interfere with most antibiotics' effectiveness, the combination can produce unpleasant side effects such as upset stomach, dizziness and drowsiness, says MayoClinic.com. Add probiotics into your diet; these strains of beneficial bacteria treat or help you avoid diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Choose yogurt, miso or powder or pills that contain live strains of probiotics. Take all medications with plenty of water, which helps you digest and absorb the drugs.

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