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Sometimes, the presence of food in the digestive tract can interfere with the absorption of certain medications. For example, in some medications, part of the active ingredient can “stick” to the food, preventing it from being absorbed. When this happens, the amount of medicine that actually makes its way into the bloodstream may be too small for the treatment to be fully effective. In cases like this, your pharmacist will recommend you take your medicine on an empty stomach, at least 30 to 60 minutes before eating (or at least two hours after eating).
For more details on how food can interfere with the absorption of certain medications, see the article entitled “5 Food Categories That Can Interact With Your Medication”.
When your pharmacist recommends you take your medication with food, it is often because food helps minimize certain side effects of those medications. For example, food helps protect the stomach from the irritating effects of certain pain medications like ibuprofen and naproxen (pain killers).
Less commonly, some other medicines may need to be taken with food to be absorbed in sufficient quantities to make them effective. In this case, your pharmacist may ask you to take the medicine with a specific type of food, for example with a meal containing fats.
Never underestimate the effect of food on your treatment. When your pharmacist gives you specific instructions regarding food, be sure to follow them! Otherwise, your treatment may not be fully effective or may even lead to side effects that could have been avoided.
If you were not given any specific instructions about food, your medication can probably be taken either on an empty stomach or with food. However, to be on the safe side, always check first with your pharmacist.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.