Grapefruit Diet Dangers – Grapefruit juice and grapefruits can be part of a healthy diet. Grapefruit contains vitamin C and potassium, nutrients the body needs to function properly.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can interfere with how your medications work, and food-drug interactions can be a concern. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are commonly taken by mouth to contain warnings to drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while taking the drug.
Grapefruit Diet Dangers
Grapefruit juice does not work on all drugs from the above category. The severity of the interaction can vary depending on the person, the medication, and the amount of grapefruit juice drunk. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and read the information that comes with your prescription or over-the-counter medicine to find out:
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“For most drugs that are affected by grapefruit juice,” says Shiu Mei Huang, Ph.D., “the juice enters the bloodstream in greater amounts than the drug.” When the drug is high in the blood, you may have more side effects.
For example, if you drink a lot of grapefruit juice while taking certain cholesterol-lowering statins, you can store too much of the drug in your body and increase your risk of liver and muscle damage, which can lead to kidney failure.
Many drugs are broken down (metabolized) in the small intestine by the vital enzyme CYP3A4. Grapefruit juice can block the action of intestinal CYP3A4, so instead of being metabolized, most of the drug enters the bloodstream and stays in the body longer. The result: an overdose of the drug in your body.
The amount of the CYP3A4 enzyme in the gut varies from person to person. Some people have a lot of this enzyme, while others have a little. Thus, grapefruit juice may affect people differently even if they are taking the same medication.
Can Grapefruit Juice Interfere With My Medications?
Although scientists have known for decades that grapefruit juice can cause high levels of certain drugs in the body, more recent studies have shown that grapefruit juice has the opposite effect on some other drugs.
“Grapefruit juice can cause less fexofenadine to enter the bloodstream, making it less effective,” Huang says. Fexofenadine (brand name Allegra) is available both by prescription and over-the-counter to relieve symptoms of seasonal allergies. Fexofenadine may also not be effective when taken with orange or apple juice, which is why the drug label says, “Do not take with fruit juice.”
Why this rebound effect? Instead of altering metabolism, grapefruit juice may act on proteins in the body known as drug carriers, some of which help transport drugs to our cells for absorption. As a result, less of the drug enters the bloodstream, and the drug may not work as well, Huang says.
When drugs are swallowed, they can be broken down (metabolized) by enzymes and/or absorbed by carriers in cells in the small intestine. Grapefruit juice can cause problems with these enzymes and transporters, causing too much or too little of the drug in the body.
Common Medications That Interact With Grapefruit
Some drugs, such as some statins used to lower cholesterol levels, are broken down by enzymes. As shown above, grapefruit juice can block the action of these enzymes, increasing the amount of the drug in the body and possibly causing more side effects.
Other drugs, such as fexofenadine, are transported into the cells of the body by transporters. As shown above, grapefruit juice can block the function of transporters, reducing the amount of the drug in the body, and may cause the drug to not work. Grapefruit is known for its slightly sweet and slightly bitter taste and is loved by many. But can a diabetic eat grapefruit?
Grapefruit has unique and sometimes negative interactions with at least 85 different medications, including common diabetes medications such as metformin and statins.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the health benefits of grapefruit, the pros and cons of eating them, and how (and if you should!) include them in your diet.
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Grapefruit is actually a natural blend of Jamaican sweet oranges and Indonesian pomelo, making it delicious for breakfast, lunch, or as a quick vegan dessert or temperature-controlled snack.
Grapefruit, like all citrus fruits, is an excellent source of vitamin C (almost a day’s worth of vitamin C in one grapefruit!) And A, vitamin B6, potassium, and even magnesium.
They also contain many antioxidants that help the immune system fight off colds and viruses.
A regular grapefruit contains just 100 calories, 25 carbs, and over 4 grams of fiber, making it a satisfying snack any time of the day.
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Grapefruit has a low glycemic index of 25. This means that eating grapefruit will not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, and taking insulin is relatively easy.
A 2013 study even found that eating grapefruit significantly reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Grapefruit can also be a great food if you’re looking to lose weight because it’s low in calories and high in fiber and water.
Eating flavonoids, compounds found in citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, has been shown to reduce the risk of ischemic stroke in women.
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In a study by the American Heart Association, the risk of stroke was 19% lower among women who consumed the most citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, in their diet.
The potassium in grapefruit also helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease, which is important for people with diabetes, both of which are complications of the disease.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help fight the formation of free radicals that can cause cancer.
Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C, an important antioxidant for cancer prevention, and just one whole grapefruit contains 68.8 mg.
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The recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 70 mg for women and 90 mg for men.
Along with tomatoes, grapefruit is a great source of lycopene, which has been shown to prevent prostate cancer.
Grapefruit is full of healthy fiber that will help you stay fit and improve digestion. A standard-sized grapefruit contains 4 grams of fiber.
The recommended daily amount of fiber for women is 21 to 25 grams per day, while men should consume 30 to 38 grams per day.
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Below are things to consider when deciding whether to include grapefruit in your diet.
Grapefruit is unique in that it has the ability to bind enzymes. This means that it can cause some drugs to pass from the digestive tract into the bloodstream faster than normal, resulting in more drug in the bloodstream, which can be potentially dangerous.
According to the FDA, it’s important to talk to your doctor before consuming grapefruit if you’re taking any of the following prescription medications:
Any medications from the above categories do not interact with grapefruit. Interactions with grapefruit juice depend on the drug, not the class.
Grapefruit Benefits And Side Effects
If you would like to include grapefruit in your diet, check with your doctor if you are unsure of any drug interactions you may be experiencing.
Metformin is not broken down by enzymes like the drugs mentioned above, so eating grapefruit does not directly affect the absorption of metformin.
A 2009 study in rats showed that the combination of grapefruit and metformin could lead to increased accumulation of metformin in the liver and increased production of lactic acid, leading to an increased risk of lactic acidosis.
However, this effect has never been seen in humans, and therefore it is generally considered safe to consume grapefruit while taking metformin.
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For more information on the possible side effects of metformin, read our detailed guide Metformin Side Effects: What You Need to Know.
This particular longitudinal study was conducted over a period of 26 years and found that people who consumed the most citrus juice had a higher incidence of malignant melanoma, although further research is recommended to strengthen the association between the two.
If you are living with kidney disease, or even struggling with a kidney infection, you may want to limit your grapefruit intake.
Kidney damage makes it difficult to remove excess potassium from the blood, and grapefruit’s high potassium levels can make this task more difficult.
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If you have kidney disease, talk to your doctor or dietitian to find out how much potassium is safe for you daily.
Grapefruit is a bitter fruit. This is great because it’s lower in carbs than many other fruits and high in fiber, making it a great snack for people with diabetes.
However, all this bitterness can come at a price. Grapefruit is usually eaten with sugar sprinkled on top, which can greatly increase the amount of carbohydrates needed for insulin intake and may even put you at risk for hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
Be careful what you eat grapefruit with and always keep that in mind when counting carbs and dosing diabetes medications like insulin.
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Grapefruit, a relatively low-carb fruit with a lower glycemic index.
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