A bewildered-looking person sits with their head in their hands. Behind their head are circles showing a food diary, a person getting blood drawn, a medication bottle, and foods that are crossed out

Are Food Trends Sabotaging Your Med Usage?

Last updated: November 2021

These days the Food Network can be found on the TV in my living room. As a former chef and food and beverage manager - knowing current and upcoming trends in food and drinks was essential to my job. When planning menus or developing new recipes, trends that kept customers excited or interested kept them coming back; however - occasionally a food trend would arise that could potentially be dangerous for persons with food allergies or on certain medications. Though restaurants and food manufacturers are required to disclose if they use common allergens like soy, nuts, shellfish, or dairy; they are not required to disclose if the product could interact with commonly used medications.

Food interactions

As I started my treatments for advanced breast cancer, I noticed many of the medications I was taking had food interaction warnings on the drug inserts. While some of the following food trends may be perfectly safe with your medication - it’s always a good idea to check food interactions with your current medications. Below are some current food trends that I've found that also may contain some of the most common foods that interact with medications and how they work in the body.

*Always ask your physician or pharmacist before changing your diet or medications. This article is to be used as a guide to starting conversations and not medical advice.

Things to consider discussing with your physician

Food additives

Occasionally - it’s not the main food ingredients, but additives that change the food color that could interact with medications and how they work.

Active charcoal

Also called coconut ash, active charcoal has been popular in emergency rooms across the country to counteract overdoses by adsorbing (not to be confused with absorbing) medications.

The trend of active charcoal being used in foods is linked to its ability to cause a deep black color that is difficult to achieve in foods. However, according to an interview gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, M.D. told Women’s Health “...if you’re drinking it and you also are on any meds, even birth control pills, the charcoal is likely to absorb the drugs. So you risk having them become ineffective.”

For now, it’s one of those better to be safe than sorry. Think about it this way, is a black ice cream cone or pizza crust really worth your medications not working? Didn’t think so.

Food Trends found in detox lemonade, other detox drinks, black ice cream, black pizza crust, other pitch-black foods.

Fruits that may affect medication uptake

The following fruits listed below all essentially work the same way when effecting how your medication works. In general, look for a “grapefruit” warning as this may be applied to other similar fruits. And as always, check with your provider or pharmacist if these could interact with your medications.

Chemicals in these fruits can prevent medications from breaking down and absorbing properly. They cause the concentration of the medication to be too high in the blood, leading to an increase of side effects and could potentially be dangerous at certain concentration levels, even leading to death. For some medications, even a small amount of the juice of these fruits can affect how the medication is broken down and metabolized in the body.

  • Grapefruit – food trends found in IZZE Sparkling Grapefruit, White Claw Ruby Grapefruit. Other (non-trend) foods and drinks to watch for: any foods containing Grapefruit, Grapefruit Juice, White Grapefruit, White Grapefruit Juice
  • Seville oranges – food trends found in marmalade - always ask what type of oranges are used when buying marmalade, it can be made with navel oranges (which are generally safe). When in doubt, ask or skip it. Other (non-trend) foods and drinks to watch for: foods or drinks containing “bitter orange”
  • Starfruit – food trends found in Starbucks new star refresher and star drink. Other (non-trend) foods and drinks to watch for Tropical Fruit mixes, Starfruit Cocktails
  • Pomegranate – Food Trends found in: Pomegranate Fruit, POM Juice, Pomtinis, Grenadine (Yes, Grenadine! That Shirley Temple is not flavored with cherry as you thought!) Other (non-trend) foods and drinks to watch for: Pomegranate juice blends

Is there any food or beverage interactions listed for your medication? Ask your oncologist, pharmacist, or check the medication information section on your medications website or insert for more information.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to share that on Friday, November 1, 2021, Tori Geib passed away. Tori was a dedicated advocate who worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funding for metastatic breast cancer. She will be deeply missed by us and by the community.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedBreastCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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