Genomind 360
Learning Center

Patients and caregivers

How Diet and Lifestyle Can Influence Medication Efficacy

girl being offered cheeseburger, alcohol, fruit, water, cigarettes, and weights

Is medication part of your physical or mental health treatment plan? Your personal biology, lifestyle, and diet all can affect how your body responds to your medication(s) more than you realize. The growing movement focusing on nutritional health has led to heightened concerns of what you put into your body and the impact it has on your overall health and wellness. This should extend to food and lifestyle’s influence on your medications as well.

Your Diet And Your Medication

Your diet can impact the effectiveness or side effects of medications. Some foods may interfere with the way your body absorbs, metabolizes, or responds to specific medications.

Metabolism And Medication

When you take most medications, they pass through your digestive system and your liver. This process is called drug metabolism, and cytochrome P-450s are the enzymes that do most of the work. These enzymes break down the medication into potentially active or inactive substances called metabolites. Some medications only become active after metabolism, while others lose their impact once they are metabolized.

Foods That Interact With Medications

The foods you eat can interact with medication metabolism, enhancing or interfering with the effectiveness of the medication. Additionally, food-drug interactions may increase drug absorption and can even cause side effects. On the contrary, a food-drug interaction can also decrease drug absorption and limit the effectiveness of the medication.


Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol. Some compounds in grapefruit juice can inhibit CYP3A, an enzyme involved in the metabolism of many medications, including statins. If these medications are processed too slowly, there can be an increase in the risk of side effects.

Dairy Products

When dairy products are digested, iron can be swept out of the body instead of being absorbed. Because of this, it is recommended that iron supplements are not be taken within several hours of dairy consumption. The calcium in dairy products can also reduce the absorption of some antibiotics and thyroid medications.

Dietary Vitamin K

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K. This nutrient is vital for normal blood clotting, but it can make the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin) less effective.

Potassium-Rich Foods

Some blood pressure medications may cause increases in potassium levels. Eating potassium-rich foods, such as bananas and potatoes, can further increase potassium. Eating these foods in conjunction with blood pressure medications can lead to elevated potassium levels and may increase the risk for arrhythmias or a dangerously irregular heartbeat.

How Lifestyle Choices Can Influence Medications

Some lifestyle factors can also influence the medications you take. Your body may metabolize medications differently when other substances, like caffeine, alcohol, or compounds from tobacco smoke are present.


Compounds in tobacco can alter the ways your body metabolizes medications. While nicotine has other harmful effects on your health, most medication interactions come from the smoke itself. Compounds in tobacco smoke can increase an individual’s metabolism rate, making certain medications less effective. In this case, physicians may need to prescribe higher doses of some medications to relieve symptoms.

Additionally, smoking can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems in people taking certain birth control pills. It may also interact with some medications that treat cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and mental health disorders.

Caffeinated Beverages

Caffeine can affect medications in a variety of ways. Because caffeine is so commonly consumed, it’s vital to understand how your medications may be affected.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol can have varying effects on the CYP450 enzymes responsible for medication metabolism. Additionally, depending on the medication with which it is combined, alcohol poses the dangers of liver damage, palpitations, or even stomach bleeding.

Because of alcohol’s depressant effect, any medications with a similar side effect can be dangerous. You may experience drowsiness, a slowed heart rate, blood pressure changes, and loss of coordination when consuming alcohol and a depressant.

Alcohol may interact with many common medications, including:

  • Over-the-counter medications for cold and flu
  • Medications with caffeine or other stimulants
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antibiotics

Finding Safe and Appropriate Medication Choices

The lifestyle you live and what you decide to put in your body everyday, in combination with your personal genetic profile, may affect how your body responds to medication(s). So how do you find helpful medication guidance with these considerations in mind?

Pharmacogenetic testing with Genomind, which is available by prescription, looks at 24 genes related to mental health treatment. It provides guidance across 10+ mental health conditions and 130+ medications to help clinicians determine:

  • Which medications may be more or less likely to be effective
  • Which medications may be more or less likely to have side effects
  • How you metabolize medications for personalized dosing guidance

Genomind’s Precision Medicine Software uses results from the PGx test to help clinicians explore various prescribing options. The tool analyzes potential gene-drug and drug-drug interactions, considering the individual’s metabolism, absorption, and sensitivity to medications. This software also takes into account several lifestyle factors like coffee intake and smoking. Together, these tools can provide your clinician helpful information to make a more informed decision about your medication(s) and dosage.

Does Your Medication Work for You?

Genomind’s leading pharmacogenetic test was designed to help your clinician personalize your treatment plan based on your genetic profile. Learn more here.

Diet, Lifestyle, and Mental Health Medication

Your personal genetic profile, along with diet and lifestyle factors, can influence medication efficacy or tolerability. Using Genomind’s PGx test gives you and your clinician a detailed report on what medications may be more or less likely to manage your symptoms and which medications may be more or less likely to have side effects, according to your genetic profile. This information, along with detailed information on your diet, lifestyle, and other specific factors, can allow for a more individualized approach to your medication treatment. Of course, you should not change or discontinue any medication without speaking to your healthcare provider.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.