Should I Eat Before Taking Medications?

May 2, 2023by custmedrx

If your medication isn’t labeled “take with food” should you take it on an empty stomach? At Tablets Pharmacy, we know that one of the surest ways to get medicine absorbed quickly and distributed throughout the body effectively is to ingest it orally – to swallow it.  We also know that one of the best ways to minimize the possibility of adverse food-drug interactions is to take it on an empty stomach.

Why Should I Eat When Taking Medications?
However, when patients have gastrointestinal issues – or just have a sensitive stomach, you may find many medications give you pain, nausea or cramping when taken on an empty stomach. Our bodies treat medicine in the stomach just like it treats food: the stomach wants to break it down and get it absorbed into the blood stream as quickly as possible. Certain medicines that break down too fast can cause stomach upset or vomiting.

Taking medications with food blunts the medicine’s effects inside the stomach and slows absorption, minimizing stomach upset. The more food we take with our medication, the slower we’ll feel the effects. Medications like oral steroids, aspirin, and over-the-counter pain relievers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen) typically come with the advice to take them with food.

Research shows that while food does slow the time it takes for NSAIDs to start working, it has no impact on overall absorption or long-term effectiveness. Taking your pain-reliever, aspirin, or oral steroid with food helps protect your stomach without significantly impacting the effects of the medicine.

Some medications and prescriptions are recommended to be taken with food to ensure a particular rate of absorption or to target a particular digestive issue.

People on a steroid or aspirin regimen, but a little food is recommended in either case.

There are cases where the desire for a rapid absorption of an NSAID outweighs the concern for stomach side effects and any of us might find gastrointestinal upset tolerable enough to experience some faster medical relief. Use caution; long-term exposure to taking these medicines without food can impact overall stomach and GI health, causing ulcers and inflammation. When you are taking a steroid or aspirin regimen or NSAIDs regularly, taking them along with food and milk will help protect your stomach from the prolonged presence of the medicine.

What Should I Eat With My Medications?
When certain foods are recommended to be eaten along with medications, stick to those foods, as it will facilitate the drug’s absorption and effectiveness in your body and help prevent side effects.

If nothing specific is recommended, a few soda crackers and a glass of water will typically provide enough of a buffer to protect your stomach while allowing the medication to be broken down and absorbed.

Are There Foods I Should Avoid?
Your medication instructions may come with a list of foods to be avoided. Heed those warnings as they can affect drug effectiveness. Certain foods will interact with certain medications and should be avoided. For instance, Warfarin and other blood thinners should not be taken with Vitamin K-rich foods such as spinach and greens or juices such as cranberry or grapefruit. When taking iron supplements and tetracycline, for example, you’ll need to avoid drinking milk about two hours before and about an hour after taking these medications. To be sure, ask your Tablets Pharmacy pharmacist if any particular foods should be avoided when taking specific medications.

Tablets Pharmacy and our entire staff is here to help you take your medications properly to give you the best results possible. When you have questions, just ask. We are always happy to help!