Caution: Eat Your Fruits and Veggies – with Care

fruits and veggiesYears of trying to get my family to eat more fruits and vegetables were hopeless.  Like many frustrated mothers, I considered pulling out my hair but thought better of it.  Their ambivalence would not deter me from eating all the fruits and vegetables I could manage.  That was until I discovered some combinations could react seriously with certain medications I was taking.  Another question I had dealt with eating specific foods in combination with others.

Before I embarked on a new healthy eating plan several months ago, these issues didn’t concern me.  An abundance of contradictory opinions on the internet had my head spinning.  Trial and error would be fine had I not been taking medication.  No; better to ask an expert and I wasn’t about to fork over dough for an unnecessary doctor’s visit.  I had other professional sources; family and my BFF.  good bad carbs

 “Eating meals and snacks that include both proteins and carbohydrates prevent episodes of hyper and hypoglycemia and stabilizes blood sugar” says food and nutrition expert Diane Pisciotto, RD of Suffolk County’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) services in NY.  “Food-combining diets of the past are no longer considered advantageous.”  Pisciotto agrees with current USDA guidelines which suggest eating a daily diet of 50% complex carbohydrates, 20% lean protein and 30% fats and avoiding processed foods, sugary snacks and trans fats.My Plate

Balance and moderation, keys to a healthy lifestyle, are not new concepts.  Depending on specific medical conditions, some fruits or vegetables may best be avoided or should be consumed in moderation.  For example, diabetics should eat fruits low in carbohydrates (<15 grams) to avoid a blood level spike.  It’s best to discuss dietary recommendations with your physician or dietitian first.

grapefruit-and-drugsIf you take prescription medications, be aware that certain fruits, specifically citrus fruits, may cause dangerous drug interactions.  Grapefruit and orange juices are popular breakfast beverages in the American diet.  However grapefruit juice in particular, can wreak havoc if consumed with specific medications, causing too much of the drugs’ active ingredient to be absorbed.  This can result in damage to your muscles or liver.

Pharmacology expert Peter Donohue, MS, RPh at Winthrop University Hospital in NY confirms “Grapefruit juice has serious interactions when combined with certain medications for the treatment of anxiety, depression, seizures, cholesterol and hypertension, to name a few.”  For example, grapefruit juice contains a compound which affects an intestinal enzyme responsible for the absorption of some medications.  Apparently this news has been circulating for several years but has made a comeback in recent months.   Thankfully, my medications are not on the “avoid grapefruit while taking these” list. I’m a happy camper.

As Ben Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Talk with your doctor.  Know your medications.  Watch what you eat.  Get adequate sleep. Tack on getting plenty of exercise and you’ll have a prescription for a healthy life.

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.”  ~ Doug Larson

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