Diabetes and Warfarin: Balance with Diet

By: Alere Staff

If you have diabetes and are taking warfarin, you may wonder if you now need a special diet to stay healthy. Although there is no special “warfarin diet”, you do need to be aware of the foods you eat, especially if you are also diabetic. According to National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, healthy eating can help manage your diabetes by controlling your blood sugar.

It is important to pay attention to what you eat while taking warfarin as some foods and beverages can alter the effectiveness of warfarin. Vitamin K is in many of the foods you eat and it can have an effect on how warfarin is processed in your body. You should be consistent in the amount of vitamin K you eat each day. Consistency in diet means to be aware of the type of foods you choose every day, pay attention to your portion sizes and be aware of the frequency you consume foods high in vitamin K. This doesn’t mean that you need to eat the same thing every day. To learn more about the vitamin K levels in foods you eat, visit our Vitamin K Finder.

Physicians agree that you can continue to enjoy foods containing vitamin K, as long as you are consistent from day to day and week to week. Be sure to avoid drastic changes in vitamin K intake.1 It is important to tell all of your doctors a complete list of medications you are taking. Under normal circumstances, warfarin should not elevate your blood sugar. Some diabetic medications may have a slightly stronger effect because you are taking an anticoagulant.1 This could lead to lower blood sugar levels.

Talk to your doctor about developing an eating plan just for you; they can take into account your weight, medicines, lifestyle and other health issues. Testing your INR more frequently, along with checking your blood sugar as ordered by your doctor will help you control your warfarin and your diabetes.

Increasing testing frequency is recommended when making any changes to your diet, medication, etc. Studies have shown that increasing testing frequency with weekly testing of INR improves patient safety and helps keep the drug in its therapeutic effective zone.3,4 Weekly testing was shown to be the most effective testing frequency.3 Medicare and many private/commercial insurance reimburse patients for weekly patient self-testing.2 Go to the Getting Started page or call Alere at 1.800.504.4032 for more information about testing your INR at home.

  1. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Medication Guide for Coumadin Tablets and Coumadin for Injection [Package Insert]. Princeton, NJ: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. 2009.
  2. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Decision Memo for Prothrombin Time (INR) Monitor for Home Anticoagulation Management (CAG-00087R) [Memorandum]. 2008. Baltimore, MD.
  3. Am J Manag Care. 2014;20(3):202-209.
  4. Heneghan C., et al. Self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 2006. Lancet, 367, 404-11.