8 Foods to Avoid When Taking Sertraline!


Navigating the world of mental health and pharmaceuticals can be complex since this area is more prevalent than we often think. The intricate relationship between the medications and the food we consume often needs more attention and needs to occupy the forefront of our discussions.

Recently, using Sertraline and its interaction with certain food items has brought attention. Although this drug is typically consumed with or without food, it is essential to understand which food item it may interact with (or particularly react with). Continue reading to discover all the details.

A Brief Introduction to Sertraline

Sertraline is a widely prescribed antidepressant available in tablet and liquid form. It is sold under the brand name Zoloft and others and is quite effective. This drug is often prescribed to treat post-traumatic disorder, panic attacks, depression, social phobia, OCD, along with severe forms of PMS.


It belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Before showing the full therapeutic effects, it may take several days and sometimes weeks; therefore, the medicine is strictly restricted under prescription. Not only that, but this drug may often interact with certain medications and food items; thus, it is generally advised to be cautious.

Does Sertraline Interact with Food?

Yes, Sertraline, like many medicines, can interact with certain foods. Understanding this interaction is crucial for those seeking benefits and want to avoid the potential side effects. This antidepressant, when consumed, is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract; however, certain foods can interfere with this absorption process.

Particularly, high-fat meals may delay the absorption, affecting the time the drug reaches the bloodstream.  However, individual reactions to Sertraline may vary depending on specific metabolism differences, genetics, and overall health. 

8 Foods to Avoid When Taking Sertraline

When taking Sertraline, certain food items (and beverages) must be avoided due to the potential chances of interaction. Here are eight such foods and why you should avoid them:

  1. Alcohol

Interaction: Consuming alcohol along with Sertraline is known to enhance the side effects, particularly dizziness and drowsiness. Not only that, but it may even impair motor and cognitive functioning.

Risk: Increased risk of depression and anxiety management along with chances of impaired judgement, accidents and falls.

  1. Grapefruit

Interaction: Certain compounds in grapefruit inhibit enzymes responsible for metabolising this drug in the liver. It may even affect the absorption of medication and metabolism in general.

Risk: Increased chances of insomnia, nausea, and serotonin syndrome. 

  1. Caffeine

Interaction: Although caffeine or caffeinated drinks do not have a direct contradiction when consumed with antidepressants, they may increase anxiety instead of helping with it. Caffiene counteracts the benefits of antidepressants instead of helping with the management.

Risk: Some of the common risks involves increased anxiety, insomnia, nervousness and jitterness. 

  1. High Sodium Foods

Interaction: Sertraline may cause an increase in sodium levels, and when consumed with high-sodium foods, it may worsen the effects.

Risk: Individuals already suffering from hypertension may experience increased blood pressure levels along with anxiety, sweatiness, etc. Monitoring sodium intake is advisable for those with hypertension or cardiovascular concerns.

  1. Tyramine-rich Foods

Interaction: Some studies suggest that consuming antidepressants (particularly the one discussed in this article) with tyramine-rich foods may lead to sertraline syndrome, a life-threatening condition. Tyramine-rich foods may cause allergies in some individuals, leading to a hypertensive crisis, although the interaction is not well-established.

Risk: Some of the common risks involve nausea, vomiting, coordination loss, high blood pressure, alleviated heartbeat, hallucination, high body temperature, and overactive reflexes.

  1. Supplements and Herbal Products

Interaction: Certain supplements and herbal products may interact with the effects of antidepressants along the discussed one. These supplements commonly include Vitamin E, kava, valerian, and St. John’s wart, amongst many others.

Risk: Some common risks involve altered effects of the medication, unexpected interaction and increased side effects.

  1. Green Tea

Interaction: Green tea, particularly the caffeinated ones, can interfere with this drug, contributing to increased anxiety.

Risk: Some common side effects may involve rashes, itching or burning sensation in the skin.

  1. Fatty Foods

Interaction: Consuming a high-fat meal with Sertraline can delay its absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, affecting its release in the bloodstream.

Risk: Delay in absorption, thus impacting the therapeutic effects.

Food Items That Are Safe With Sertraline

While certain food items can be risky, here is a list of food items that are safe to consume and may even improve the effect:

  • Lean protein, including chicken, fish, and turkey.
  • Plant-based protein, including beans and legumes.
  • Whole grains include oats, whole wheat products, quinoa, brown rice, and other products rich in fiber and complex carbs.
  • Vegetables like leafy greens, bell peppers, and more in both raw and cooked form.
  • Fresh fruits include bananas, apples, oranges, berries, and more.
  • Low-fat dairy in the form of yogurt, cheese, and milk.
  • Seeds and nuts like chia seeds, flaxseeds, almonds and walnuts.
  • Herbs include turmeric and species like basil, turmeric, and ginger.
  • Water, herbal drinks, and non-alcoholic/ caffeinated beverages.

Should I take Sertraline with or without food?

Sertraline can be consumed with or without food as per doctor’s recommendation. The decision also depends upon personal preference and how the body reacts/ adapts to the medication. However, while choosing either way, it is essential to be consistent.

Taking it with food may minimize the risks of gastrointestinal side effects, whereas, without food, it may cause nausea and vomiting to many. Also, taking the medication every day at the same time can help in increasing its effectiveness. Paying attention to how your body responds to the process is essential. 


Overall, when consuming Sertraline for its antidepressant effects, it is essential to acknowledge its interference/ interaction with certain medications, foods, and beverages. The list of 8 food items to avoid mentioned in the article above may help you make a safe and informed choice.

Besides what foods to void, it is also essential to consider safe food items that may even improve the effects. The key is to maintain a balance between nutritional diet and potential interactions. 

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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