If you’ve been reading Healthier Talk for a while, you probably already know I’m not exactly a big fruit juice fan. I tend to think of the stuff as just a step above common Kool-Aid.
Many fruits are high in sugar, to begin with, of course. But when you separate the juice from the fiber in the fruit, you basically just have a glass of sugar water.
Much of the good that the vitamins and minerals in the juice might do for you is erased by the damage the excess sugar can do. And don’t fall for that “fructose is natural” scam, either. Because sure, it is. But so is arsenic. And you wouldn’t want to gulp down a bunch of that stuff either.
Now, of course, I’m not saying fruit juice is poison. But I am making the point that just because something is found in nature doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you… or even safe for that matter.
In fact, just last week, I warned readers about a rather bizarre hidden danger of fructose. Researchers recently discovered that fruit sugar appears to literally alter cells in our digestive tract.
And that could have some potentially devastating consequences. If you missed that issue, click to catch up here.
But today, I want to talk about an entirely different fruit danger. And that’s how your favorite juice and your medications might make a dangerous mix.
Beware of grapefruit and drug interactions
Topping the list of potential interactions is grapefruit juice. It doesn’t play well with a huge number of drugs. The juice—and in this case, the whole fruit too—interferes with cytochrome P450 (CYPs) proteins in your liver and small intestines.
CYPs break down many medications reducing their levels in your blood. But when chemicals in the grapefruit juice disrupt that process, it can boost the amount of the drugs entering your bloodstream.
And that, of course, can increase the side effects of those drugs, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and respiratory depression. As well as potentially lead to muscle, kidney, or liver damage.
Studies have pinpointed far too many medications that can be affected by grapefruit juice for me to list them all here. In fact, by the last count, there were over 85 of them. (You can use this Drug Interactions Checker to find out if yours is on the list.)
But common ones include some…
- statins (such as Lipitor and Zocor)
- high blood pressure meds (such as Procardia and Cozaar)
- impotence drugs (such as Viagra and Cialis)
- antihistamines (such as Allegra)
- blood thinners (such as Plavix and Eliquis)
- anti-anxiety meds (such as BuSpar, Valium, and Zoloft)
You don’t have to drink gallons of the juice (or eat a boatload of the whole fruits) for it to be a problem either. In fact, even just a single glass of grapefruit juice can alter how these drugs work.
For example, in one study, grapefruit juice sent blood levels of certain statins soaring by a staggering 260 percent. And the effect can last for days, which means you can’t simply space your meds and juice apart for a few hours and assume you’re safe.
Don’t take your meds with juice
But grapefruit isn’t the only juice that can interact with certain medications. Others ought to be on your radar too.
In some cases, apple juice can significantly reduce the amount of a drug your body absorbs, giving you far less benefit. For example, levels of the allergy drug Allegra (fexofenadine) can plummet by 78 percent if taken with 1.5 cups of the juice.
Similarly, levels of the high blood pressure drug Atenolol can drop over 58 percent if you drink 2.5 cups of apple juice. And if you drink even more, that could lead to an 82 percent plunge in levels.
Other drugs that may interact with apple juice include…
- antibiotics (such as Cipro and Levaquin)
- blood pressure drugs (such as Tenormin and celiprolol)
- chemotherapy drugs (such as Toposar and Vepesid)
Wait at LEAST four hours between drinking apple juice and taking any of these drugs.
America’s favorite breakfast juice can spell trouble when taken with your meds too. In fact, all of the drugs listed above that could interact with apple juice can have their levels tank if you swallow them with OJ too.
For example, in one study, less than a cup of orange juice decreased the blood levels of the blood pressure drug celiprolol by over 80 percent. So be sure to take your meds and your OJ far apart.
Gogi fruit juice:
This one is a bit more exotic. But the gogi berry has been gaining a positive reputation in a lot of health-oriented circles. In fact, just a few months ago, I wrote about the berry’s ability to help knock nearly two years off the age of your blood vessels.
But it turns out goji berry juice (and possibly the fruit itself or even supplements) can slow the breakdown of certain drugs such as the blood thinner warfarin and the anti-arrhythmia drug flecainide.
For example, a recent case report was published of a 75-year-old woman admitted to the ER with heart arrhythmias and fainting. It turns out she had flecainide toxicity. Her doctors believe it was the goji tea she said she was drinking to reduce her COVID-19 risk.
Reportedly, the fruit may interact with diabetes and blood pressure drugs as well.
The bottom line is it’s never a good idea to take any medications with fruit juice. Use water instead.
If you can’t kick the juice habit entirely, wait no less than four hours after taking your meds before you drink any. And keep in mind with grapefruit and certain drugs, there may be no safe window.
It’s also a good idea to set up a time to talk with your pharmacist or doctor to go over each of your meds to check for potential juice and food interactions. There are alternative drugs you can take that won’t interact with any of your favorite fruits in almost all cases.