Should diabetics drink grapefruit juice with diabetes drugs?
People with diabetes should know that some fruits contain certain ingredients, which when eaten with specific medications can cause more harm than good. Grapefruit juice with diabetic medicine is one such combination. This has been the subject of many research studies, largely because people could not really agree on whether it is a ‘safe’ combination or not.
Health Benefits of Grapefruit
Health wise, grapefruit juice has been considered extremely useful in curing ailments like cancer and hardening of the arteries. According to scientists, there are certain chemicals in grapefruit juice that can greatly help an ailing person. Grapefruit is therefore a nutraceutical. Grapefruit juice also delivers:
- vitamin C – helps build different types of tissue like bone, muscle, cartilage, etc.
- potassium – helps regulate blood pressure
- lycopene – an antioxidant helps neutralize radicals in the body to fight certain cancers
Known Side Effects of Grapefruit
Grapefruit juice also contains certain ingredients that can be very harmful when taken with certain medications. In many cases, diabetics tend to drink their grapefruit juice with diabetes drugs, or for that matter any pill type medication during breakfast. Diabetics say it taste better that way. In cases where the fruit or the fruit juice interferes with the functioning of the medication, there could be serious side effects if both are swallowed together.
Under these circumstances, it is obvious that doctors will tell their patients to either stay off the fruit or its juice, or to keep a time gap between taking both.
While no study has actually proven the link between grapefruit juice and diabetes drugs that specifically effect blood glucose or insulin, it is important to note that when the juice is taken along with drugs such as statins, which is a cholesterol reducing drug, it can be deadly to the person.
Research has revealed that grapefruit juice has a compound called furanocoumarins (FOO-ran-o-coo-mah-rens) that actually block certain enzymes in the intestine. Normally, these enzymes help the intestines absorb the statins or other drugs and take them out of the bloodstream. The loss of the enzyme reduces the absorption of the medication by the small intestines. This causes the drug level in the blood to increase to sometimes 3 times the correct amount. The drug level in the blood becomes toxic to the liver, muscles and other tissue in the body’s. The drug just like glucose becomes a poison at a high level in the blood.
It is therefore advised that prescribed medications like statins, and the other drugs in table 1 should not be taken with grapefruit juice. By the way, Pomelos and Seville are two bitter oranges use to make marmalade and compotes are believe to contain furanocoumarins.
Drugs Effected by Grapefruit Juice (Table 1)
|PATIENTS SUFFER FROM
|Statins- reduce cholesterol production in the body
|High blood cholesterol
|Immunosuppressants- prevent rejection of transplanted organs
|Kidney and liver transplant
|Calcium channel blockers block absorption of calcium and relaxes blood vessels
|High blood pressure
|Antidepressants reduce pain signals to the brain
|Depression, nerve damage foot pain
In other words, you should create a time gap between drinking grapefruit juice and taking the drugs in table 1 by taking one in the morning and the other preferably at a later hour. According to experts, the time gap between drinking grapefruit juice and swallowing diabetes drugs should be more than 24 hours, which is not possible in most of the cases. Therefore, they believe that people with diabetes should avoid grapefruit juice and diabetes drugs that contain statins.
When it comes to grapefruit juice and diabetes drugs, it is important to note that if you drink the juice without the active ingredient furanocoumarins, you will not face the same problem. This was determined when a scientist decided to study the effects of grapefruit juice both with and without the active ingredient, and orange juice on three groups of patients who were taking drugs mixed with statins.
Research revealed that grapefruit juice with the active ingredient interfered with the drug, while the juice without the active ingredient had no effect like the orange juice. This has led to the belief that if furanocoumarins were removed from grapefruit juice, then there would be no interference between grapefruit juice and diabetes drugs with statins.
Lastly, this study of grapefruit juice and diabetes drugs should teach people with diabetes to study more about the drugs you will be taking as part of your diabetes treatment. Read the information your pharmacist gives you. Also, ask the pharmacist and doctor to clearly explain how the drug works and what can go wrong. After all, it is your body. Protect it or suffer the side effects.