Liver is the second largest organ in the human body and has over 500 functions including protein synthesis, blood clotting, destruction of old RBCs, detoxification and metabolism of chemicals and drugs along with hormone regulation and digestion of fats assisted by the production of bile, to name a few. When the liver is not functioning optimally due to various reasons, the signs can be seen with elevated liver enzymes.
There are two types of liver enzymes commonly found; serum aspartate aminotransferase (ALT or SGOT) and serum alanine aminotransferase (AST or SGPT). ALT is found mostly in the liver that helps in the metabolism of protein. ALT levels will normally be low in the body but in case of damage its levels are increased in the blood stream; whereas, AST helps with the metabolism of alanine amino acid. AST level is usually found in high concentrations but level higher than the normal also indicates liver damage or disease. Normal level of enzyme for ALT in adult male is 7 to 55 units per liter while for AST, it is 8 to 48 units per liter. The normal levels may slightly differ for women and children.
Liver enzymes can be elevated due to alcohol consumption, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis, heart failure, certain medications (Tylenol, statins), autoimmune hepatitis, alcoholic hepatitis, cytomegalovirus infection, celiac disease, Epstein-Barr virus, hemochromatosis, liver cancer, mononucleosis, thyroid disorder, pancreatitis, polymyositis, sepsis, toxic hepatitis, Wilson’s disease, adrenal insufficiency, alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, diabetes, muscle disorders, liver or bile duct tumors. It can also be caused due to excessive herbal supplements such as kava, pennyroyal, comfrey and skullcap.
The underlying cause of elevated liver enzymes are determined by additional liver blood tests, physical examination, ultrasound, computed axial tomography and liver biopsies. Elevated liver enzymes can be normalized by treating the underlying cause and dietary modifications.
What is a Good Diet for Elevated Liver Enzymes?
Liver is an organ that is capable enough to regenerate and heal it-self, if it is given the right nutrients and minerals through a healthy diet. A good diet for elevated liver enzymes should contain toxin and hormone free diet and liver cleansing diet. The body requires flushing out toxins and the best way to do that is to drink enough water, around 4 liters of water per day. Eating a healthy diet is eating a lot of green vegetables and fruits that will restore a healthy liver. Raw vegetables will provide more minerals and also roughage for proper motility of the toxins to be flushed out of the body. A blend of lemon juice and olive oil in a glass of water is known to detox the liver by lowering bilirubin and flushing heavy metals out of the body and promoting increased bile production, stimulation of lymphatic flow and restoration of pH in the body.
Other food such as burdock root is great for liver and stimulation of bile production. Dandelion also stimulates the liver and helps alkalize blood. Cilantro is another herb that helps detoxify body of metals like mercury. Oregano is rich in antioxidant activity and full of vitamin B6, which also increases bile production and reduces the inflammatory effects of other foods. Beets, carrots and grapefruits are supposed to be rich in glutathione, which is great for liver detoxification. Kale, celery, spirulina, chard, ginger, orange, romaine, cranberry juice, milk thistle all are known to promote liver health. It is important to consume fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, brown rice, whole grains, bitter gourd, mustard greens and chicory. Good diet for elevated liver enzymes requires reduced consumption of refined carbohydrates and processed foods and drinks such as white breads, pasta, biscuits, pastries, desserts, carbonated drinks, artificial sugars and also restrict deep fried foods, butter, turkey, beef and poultry. Healthy diet requires avoiding alcohol that causes damage to liver. A person is what he eats and drinks, so it is best to eat healthy for healthy liver and optimal liver enzyme level.
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