Dr Zoe discusses the signs and symptoms on Crohn's disease
If you are taking corticosteroids for Crohn’s disease, for example, you may want to stay away from grapefruit. According to the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), grapefruit (including the juice) could negatively interact with medication for Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation explained: “Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.”
Crohn’s disease differs from ulcerative colitis in that it can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus.
Ulcerative colitis, on the other hand, only affects the large intestine.
While both are a type of inflammatory bowel disease they are not the same illness.
Common symptoms of Crohn’s disease can include:
- Persistent diarrhoea
- Rectal bleeding
- Urgent need to move bowels
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- A sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation
- Constipation, which can lead to bowel obstruction.
Do you take medication?
The condition can also lead to low energy, fatigue, weight loss, and loss of appetite.
“A combination of treatment options can help you stay in control of your disease and help you to lead a full and rewarding life,” the charity says.
Dima Quato, an associate professor at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy, warned that grapefruit can be troublesome for other conditions too.
If a person with high cholesterol is given statins, it’s best for them to avoid grapefruit.
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Grapefruit inhibits an enzyme that’s necessary for statins to metabolise, which means “the drug stays in the blood and accumulates”.
Quato explained that this can increase “the risk of side effects, such as muscle pain”.
Of all the statins, it’s believed atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin can have the most problematic interaction with grapefruit.
Quato added that grapefruit could also prevent a calcium channel blocker (a type of blood pressure medication) from working effectively.
People taking the beta blocker atenolol (Tenormin) or the renin inhibitor aliskiren (Tekturna) need to be careful of certain juices.
Quato pointed out that drinking apple or orange juice could decrease levels of the medication in the body.
As for those who suffer from an underactive thyroid, and are taking levothyroxine, walnuts could make the medication less effective.
Quato explained walnuts could affect a person’s absorption of levothyroxine, so it’s advised to leave a few hours between eating and taking medication.
Bethanne Brown, a professor of pharmacy practice at the J.L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati, also warned of bananas and ACE inhibitors.
Blood pressure-lowering ACE inhibitors in combination with potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, could be troublesome, suggests Brown.
High potassium levels in the body might lead to heart arrhythmias (an irregular heartbeat).
The best person to speak to about medications, and foods and drinks to avoid, is your doctor.
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