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Medically reviewed by
Constance Tambakis Odom, MD graduated in 1987 with her Doctorate of Medicine from the New York Medical College, and was an Anesthesiologist Resident from 1988 to 1991 at the Brookdale Medical Center PGY II (CA-I)-PGY IV (CA-III). She is Board Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology since 1998 and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 2002. Constance Odom, MD is affiliated with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiology, Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, Hellenic Medical Society of New York, North Carolina Society of Anesthesiology, and Society of Ambulatory Anesthesia.
As one of the most popular medications for type 2 diabetes, Metformin has made its way into the medicine cabinets of many Americans. It is known for its ability to treat type 2 diabetes, and in many cases, to help you lose weight.
However, there is one drawback—you have to avoid certain foods. Metformin is used by many to lower blood sugar levels. However, certain foods, like alcohol and refined carbohydrates, can cause problems. According to K Health, alcohol interacts with Metformin, so it is wise to avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to drop too quickly in people who have diabetes. However, if you must have alcohol, simply cut back on your intake.
When combined, alcohol and Metformin increase your risk of getting hypoglycemia and high blood sugar. In addition, combining alcohol and Metformin increases your risk of developing lactic acidosis, a condition in which the body’s production of lactic acid surpasses the body’s lactic acid threshold.
According to health experts, millions of Americans take Metformin every day. That is why it is so important to know which foods you should avoid.
What about refined carbs? How do they affect Metformin?
Experts say that Metformin helps your body lower blood glucose levels, while refined carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to increase. Because of this, you should avoid refined carbohydrates as much as possible. Examples of refined carbohydrates include white rice, white bread, desserts, soda, and candy. Snacks, such as crackers and potato chips, can also cause blood sugar spikes.
Foods that make your blood sugar spike aren’t forbidden. However, be aware that foods high in refined carbs can render Metformin ineffective, so the drug will have to work harder to achieve its desired effect.
What about salt? How does it affect Metformin?
Salt can have a negative effect on the body, especially when you take Metformin as a treatment for diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of developing hypertension or high blood pressure. Diabetes also increases your chances of developing inflammatory problems, so it is a good idea to avoid sodium as much as possible.
How does trans-fat impact Metformin?
Another component that causes problems with Metformin is trans-fat. Many baked goods and fast-food items contain high amounts of trans-fat. Because trans-fat is an inflammatory substance, foods containing trans-fat have the potential to cause cardiovascular disease, a condition that affects millions of Americans. According to PubMed, insulin resistance contributes to the development of diabetes. However, this problem can be counteracted by certain forms of fatty acids.
According to experts, trans fatty acids (TFAs) impede the functioning of cell membranes. Your consumption of trans fatty acids significantly impacts insulin sensitivity and increases your risk of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends that you avoid trans-fats and increase your intake of monounsaturated fat.
What about saturated fat?
Saturated fat can cause inflammation in the body. It contributes to bodily inflammation and makes it difficult to manage diabetes and lose weight. Because of this, foods high in saturated fat should be avoided. Foods high in saturated fat include red meat and dairy products. This means you should avoid milk, cheese, and butter.
Consuming these can increase your lipid levels. Fatty foods can cause glucose to remain elevated for extended periods of time. Losing weight on this medication can be difficult if you consume a lot of fat. According to experts, saturated fats impact your body, making it hard to control blood sugar levels. This is referred to as hepatoxicity, which means you have an insufficient intake of oxygen.
One study conducted on animals found that rodents that were fed a high fat diet had an intolerance to glucose and a reduced response to insulin. Animals in this study were also exposed to Metformin. Saturated fat also harms the liver, resulting in undesired changes that are caused by fluctuations in weight. Scientists came to this conclusion by overfeeding overweight participants. This led to sustained health problems.
While it is important to know what foods to avoid while taking Metformin, it also helps to know which foods are safe when you take this medication. Experts highly recommend increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates. Foods, such as whole-grain oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole grain bread, are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates and also great sources of fiber. Because these foods are high in fiber, they slow the rate at which the body turns carbohydrates into glucose.
This stabilizes blood glucose levels, leading to improved stomach health. In addition, these foods can help you lose weight. Lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and turkey are high in protein. Protein improves your blood sugar and minimizes your consumption of saturated fat.
But what other foods are off limits when you take Metformin? Unfortunately for snack lovers, many goodies and enjoyable foods, such as crackers and chips, should be avoided when you take this medication. White rice, white bread, and pasta should be avoided if you take Metformin.
Experts highly advise that you consume a lot of fruits and vegetables while taking Metformin. You should limit your consumption of processed foods and eat healthy portions. This means not going back for seconds. You should also eat a low-fat and low-carb diet. Metformin can interact with the food you consume. If you want Metformin to work properly and produce its desired effect, you need to modify your diet.
While foods with healthy fats are good for you, you should avoid consuming too much fat. Avoid foods that are high in fat, and opt instead for lean foods.
Many conditions require you to modify your diet. With Metformin, it is especially important, because some foods throw your body off kilter. This is especially true for those with PCOS. Women with PCOS and those taking Metformin should avoid grapefruit. A study on lab rats found that rats that took Metformin and grapefruit juice produced more lactic acid than rats that were only given Metformin.
Because of this, consuming grapefruit on Metformin may increase your risk of developing lactic acidosis.
You should avoid sugary drinks if you take Metformin. Energy drinks, sodas, coffee drinks, and sweetened teas quickly raise blood sugar levels, so it is best to avoid them. PCOS can come from insulin resistance as well, so it is especially important to avoid sugary drinks. That allows Metformin to improve your insulin sensitivity.
Excess sugar can be problematic as well. Foods with added sugar can worsen PCOS symptoms and insulin resistance. Foods with added sugar include baked goods, such as candy, cookies, pies, and cakes. Many fruit juices contain added sugars. According to the American Heart Association, sugars can be added or exist naturally in food. However, sugars that are added to foods are typically syrups and sugars that were not in the foods in the first place.
These sugars and syrups are added when food is being processed. If you want to limit your excess sugar consumption, it helps to know which sugary foods pose the highest risks. Milk products contain a lot of sugar. These include items, such as ice cream, breakfast cereal, and breakfast bars.
It is easy to consume more sugar than your body needs. Because of this, it is important to keep track of how much sugar you consume. Read nutrition labels to see how many added sugars your foods contain. This will help you limit your consumption of foods that can cause problems.
It’s no secret that fried foods are bad for you. However, they are especially harmful if you take Metformin. If you are going to eat fried food, limit your consumption. Doing so can also make you lose weight.
Refined grains can cause problems for people who take Metformin. Some foods can make Metformin’s side effects worse. Eating these foods can cause your blood sugar levels to increase. The most common side effects of Metformin include:
Metallic taste in your mouth
Loss of appetite
If you experience nausea while taking this medication, you should:
Eat smaller meals
Eat more slowly
Eat light and bland foods
You should avoid certain medications if you take Metformin. While fiber helps with glucose levels, it is not necessarily a good idea to load up on fiber when taking this medication. High fiber foods can keep medication from being absorbed into your bloodstream. If you consume too much fiber in a day, it may counteract Metformin’s positive effects and may lower its levels in your system.
You should ideally consume 30 milligrams of fiber per day. It’s also important to limit fried foods on this medication, as fried foods can make diabetes worse. They also contain unhealthy trans-fat. These are the most “harmful fats” you can consume. If you are going to consume foods high in trans-fat, do so in moderation. Eating too much of these foods can worsen your condition and lead to an unhealthy lifestyle. You should also avoid processed foods, because they cause weight gain and impair the liver’s functioning.
Nu Image Medical has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.