Ways to Lower Liver Enzymes
The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. It is also the largest organ and is situated below the ribcage, above the abdomen. This organ uses thousands of enzymes to perform essential chemical processes.
The liver has many functions, including:
- Remove toxins from our body and clean the blood.
- Help with food digestion.
- Produce enzymes including digestive liquid called bile.
- Control the flow of urine.
- Store important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
- Help with blood clotting.
In this article we will take a detailed look at liver enzymes, the causes and symptoms of the increased enzymes, ways to lower these levels, and ways to keep enzyme levels healthy.
Please note: This article is for general information only and should not be used as an alternative or substitute for medical advice from your own doctor or other health care professionals. Always consult your GP or health professional if you are concerned about your health in any way. I wrote this and other articles about liver health after a friend experienced liver failure. I researched liver health and am now sharing some of what I found with you.
Liver Enzymes and Why They Increase
The most common enzymes produced by the liver are aspartate transaminase enzymes (AST) and alanine transaminase enzymes (ALT). These are known together as transaminases.
The liver also produces alkaline phosphatase (AP) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), which are known together as cholestatic liver enzymes.
When the liver is damaged, overworked, or diseased its walls become perforated. As a result of this, the enzymes escape the liver and enter the bloodstream. Therefore, if increased liver enzymes are detected in a blood test means that the liver is under some form of stress.
A high level of liver enzymes does not necessarily mean that the liver is producing excessive enzymes. It may be simply that the level of liver enzymes present in blood has increased. This does, however, indicate that the liver is under excessive strain. A doctor can determine the source of the problem. A doctor will consider the medicines the person takes, their symptoms, and other factors before making a diagnosis. It is good to sit with your doctor and understand why your liver enzymes have increased, as this will help you to understand how to care for your liver and avoid further damage.
Some Reasons Why Liver Enzymes Increase
- Hepatitis A, B
- Hepatitis C
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Obesity (in some cases)
- Alcohol abuse
- Medicines taken for pain relief
- Medicines to control cholesterol levels
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Anti-seizure medicines
- Fatty liver
- Thyroid problems
- Auto immune diseases
- Celiac disease
- Inflammation of the gall bladder
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Muscular disorders
- High intake of salt and herbal supplements
- Liver cancer
Symptoms of Liver Strain
The symptoms for increase in liver enzymes are not always obvious. They include:
- Jaundice, including yellowing of eyes and skin.
- Dark urine, high temperature, nausea, and weakness even after drinking lots of water.
- Cirrhosis of the liver.
- Fatty liver.
- Pain in the lower right side of the chest.
- Brown patches on the skin.
Bringing Enzyme Levels Down
In order to bring dangerously high enzyme levels down, one must be really careful about what they eat and drink. Whatever we consume is digested or processed with the help of the liver. As a result of this, unhealthy and harmful food or drinks can be damaging to the liver.
One must also have a proper diagnosis and treatment from their doctor in order to lower the liver enzymes. Once a diagnosis is made, it is best to have liver function tests (LFT) done once every six months, or even more frequently, as advised by your doctor or health professional until the liver enzymes go back to a normal level.
There are various ways in which one can lower liver enzymes:
- Milk thistle, a herb that protects liver cells, and dandelion help with detoxing the body and hence will help to improve the health of the liver. It is good to take these after consulting your dietician and doctor. Also get them from an approved and trustworthy health store.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants, as these will help reduce the toxin levels in the liver.
- Avoid any drugs or medicines that are not prescribed to you by your doctor.
- Even ibuprofen and aspirin can be damaging to the liver, so it is best to consult your doctor regarding an alternative for pain relief.
- Stop drinking alcohol completely for speedy recovery. Even after a complete cure, it is best not to consume alcohol at all. If you do, consume it rarely and in limited amounts as the level of enzymes can increase anytime again.
- There are so many toxins in polluted air. For example cigarette smoke, paint fumes, burnt rubber and other chemicals. One needs to stay away from these toxins as they affect the liver.
- With the help and advice of a dietician, nutritionist, or your doctor, try your best to take herbal remedies rather than other drugs to lower the level of liver enzymes.
- Take Vitamin B12 and Coenzyme Q10 (with your doctor's approval), as they help with rebuilding the damaged cells in the liver.
- It is good to be active, so that the body gets some mild exercise. Sometimes obesity is the cause of increase in level of liver enzymes. It is good to lose some weight gradually and not rapidly, for example, two pounds a week. Even a brisk walk or jogging for 30 minutes will help improve the blood circulation and bring new blood to the liver.
- Avoid foods that contain fat.
- Increase carbohydrate intake.
- Eat vegetables that are rich in proteins.
- Get enough sleep and rest, as this is very important for the damage to repair by regenerating new cells.
- Never take medicine or herbs without your doctor's approval, as even some herbal remedies can be harmful to the liver.
- It is good to sit with your dietician or nutritionist and ask them for a diet plan that you can follow and which will help improve the health and function of the liver.
- Avoid caffeine or at least limit caffeine intake.
- Drink water (at least eight glasses a day) as this helps with flushing the toxins out of the body.
- Avoid salt intake, red meat, oil, and spices
- Discuss with your doctor any other drugs you are using, for example, for lowering cholesterol or other drugs, and ask to see if you can stop them.
How Long Will it Take to Restore Enzyme Levels?
The time it takes for the liver enzyme level to get back to normal depends on each person and the severity of the condition of liver and health. It usually gets lowered in a few weeks (4 to 8) if the conditions are not too severe and if strict diet and medication are followed. In severe cases, it can take a few months before the enzyme level gets back to normal, as the damage will be high and will take time to repair.
If these enzyme conditions are left untreated, or treatment is delayed, it can lead to liver cancer and can be life-threatening.
Improving Your Liver's Health
In order to have a healthy liver:
- Consume only healthy food and drinks. Try your best to eat organic food (food grown naturally without chemicals or pesticides) including fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.
- Avoid artificial ingredients, fizzy drinks, and fruit juice cocktails which have a high level of fructose. Limit your sugar intake to 200 calories a day (sucrose and fructose are bad sugars).
- Take fish oil and flax oil help to improve the liver function. These help lower the triglyceride levels (fat) in the liver. Take food rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Always cook your own food. Avoid ready-made, pre-cooked, and preserved food from the supermarkets or elsewhere, as chemicals are added. Since the liver plays a major role in digesting food, additives and chemicals put strain on the liver.
- Do not use refined sugar as it contains 95% sucrose and offers no nutritional value.
- Be sure you get your daily protein. Eat eggs, milk products, fish, meat (lean meats are good), and poultry as these can be processed by the liver easily.
- Avoid alcohol by all means, and if you do take it rarely in limited amounts.
- Do not take any drugs or over-the-counter medicines unless prescribed by your doctor or health professional. Combinations of certain drugs can harm the liver, and hence it is always best to consult your doctor (physician) or health professional before taking any.
- Stay away from cigarette smoke and any other smoke as they might contain toxins.
- Be careful about skin care products, as these products are absorbed through the skin and processed by the liver. If there are any harmful chemicals, they will affect your liver's health. Use natural products when possible.
- Exercise and get good rest. This keeps the body and liver healthy.
- Do not eat fatty food or food that high in carbohydrates.
- Eat required amount of fibrous food and cruciferous vegetables.
- Drink green tea.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
- Add these foods into your diet as often as possible as they help with cleansing the liver: garlic, grapefruit, carrots, beetroots, green leafy vegetables, avocados, apples, olive oils, whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, lemons, walnuts, asparagus, kale, and brussels sprouts.
I hope this article has been of some use to you. Please do not hesitate to leave your thoughts and feedback.