High Liver Enzymes What Do They Mean

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 12/03/2023

Have you ever wondered why the liver is called 'the silent hero'? It's always there, working tirelessly behind the scenes. But when this quiet champion starts to falter, it doesn't exactly shout for help.

Your doctor might drop terms like AST and ALT in a conversation, and your mind begins to race - "What does that even mean?"

Picture these enzymes as workers keeping your liver shipshape. However, too many of them can signal trouble in paradise.

We've all heard about jaundice or bloating as tell-tale signs of liver issues. But did you know itchy feet could be one too? Or how might changing your diet support this vital organ?

Are you intrigued? Let's delve deeper into high liver enzymes. We'll discuss the symptoms, what they signify for your health, and strategies to support our unsung hero - the liver.

Understanding Liver Enzymes: AST and ALT

Your liver is like a busy factory with lots of different jobs. Two essential enzymes in the liver's operation are Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) and Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT), which aid in processing proteins for energy.

They're essential for your liver's operation, helping process proteins your body uses for energy.

The Role of AST and ALT in the Liver

These two enzymes play a big part in our 'factory.' AST, which isn't exclusive to the liver but is also found in other parts such as the heart or muscles, helps metabolize amino acids - the building blocks of protein.

ALT, on the other hand, hangs out mainly in our livers. It plays an important role, too – assisting glucose production from proteins rather than carbohydrates when needed. Think of it as an expert switchboard operator redirecting resources.

How AST and ALT Levels Indicate Liver Health

If these hard-working guys start showing up where they don't belong—like outside their workspace—the factory might have issues. High levels could signal potential damage or disease within your liver.

Liver and gallbladder illustration

Symptoms of High Liver Enzymes

High liver enzymes can be a signal that your liver is under stress. The liver is vital to many bodily processes, so that any disruption can have far-reaching consequences. It's like the backstage crew at a concert - you're sure to notice on stage when things go wrong there.

Common Physical Symptoms

You may see physical signs such as jaundice, which gives your skin and eyes a yellow tint; ascites or fluid buildup in your abdomen; itchy feet and edema (swelling) in your legs; spider veins too could surface.

Beyond what you can see outside, though, internal changes are also taking place. The increased enzyme levels mean your body works more complexly than usual to fix damage or fight off disease.

Digestive Issues as a Symptom

The commotion within doesn't stop with physical discomforts alone. Your digestive system might join this protest march, too. Nausea, loss of appetite, or weight without trying – sound familiar?

If these issues persist for more than just a few days, don’t hesitate to ask for help from healthcare professionals.

Decoding Liver Conditions Through AST and ALT Ratios

Unraveling the mystery of liver conditions can often come down to a simple ratio: Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) to Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT). These two enzymes, primarily found in your liver, play critical roles in its function.

The normal range for ALT is 7-56 units per liter of serum, and AST is between 10-40. When these levels are high, it may indicate some form of liver damage or disease. But how do we interpret this?

An increased level of ALT compared to AST, commonly referred to as an 'ALT dominant' pattern, could point towards conditions like viral hepatitis or fatty liver disease.

Conversely, when the levels tip more towards an 'AST dominant' state where there's a higher count of AST than ALT - we start thinking about alcohol-induced injuries or cirrhosis.

To make sense of all these numbers flying around, remember that keeping track isn't just about knowing what’s too much but understanding their balance against each other. That’s the secret sauce.

The Regenerative Capacity of the Liver

Did you know your liver is like a star quarterback? It's always ready to take one for the team. The liver has a unique ability to heal itself, even when it takes some hits.

This self-repair magic comes from its high number of regenerative cells. But there's a limit - repeated or severe damage can overwhelm this healing process.

A study by The American Journal of Pathology showed that chronic injury leads to scar tissue buildup, hindering regeneration and leading potentially to conditions such as cirrhosis.

Liver Damage: When Self-Repair Isn't Enough

If you've ever attempted to patch up a dripping tap using duct tape, you'll comprehend why self-mends sometimes don't do the trick. While our livers have incredible regenerative capabilities, particular factors might reduce this capacity significantly.

Frequent alcohol consumption or prolonged use of certain medications may cause serious harm that goes beyond what our livers can fix on their own.

PubMed research shows how these lifestyle choices could lead us down a slippery slope toward irreversible liver damage if we're not careful enough.

Supporting Liver Health Through Lifestyle Choices

Your lifestyle choices can significantly influence the health of your liver. Everything from what you eat to how often and when plays a role in keeping this vital organ healthy.

The Role of Diet in Liver Health

A nutritious diet is fundamental for sustaining good liver well-being. Consuming too many processed foods may build up fat in the liver.

On the other hand, a healthy keto diet, which emphasizes whole foods with high-quality proteins and fats, can help support your liver function.

Intermittent Fasting and Liver Health

Fasting intermittently may also benefit your liver's health as it helps trigger autophagy. This cellular cleanup process breaks down and recycles damaged molecules and cells, including those in your liver.

The Impact of Medication and Alcohol on the Liver

Moderating alcohol consumption is crucial because excessive drinking can damage or destroy liver cells, leading to cirrhosis or even failure. Similarly, long-term use or high doses of medication might harm your precious organs, too.

Importance of Vegetables in Supporting Liver Detoxification

Eating plenty of vegetables isn't just about staying fit. They're rich sources of antioxidants that aid detoxification processes, thus reducing strain on our livers, making them indispensable components for any hepatic wellness regimen.

probiotic as pathogenic strains

Probiotics and Liver Health

Probiotic enzymes can have a positive influence on liver health. The liver plays a vital role in detoxifying the body and metabolizing various substances, and maintaining its well-being is essential for overall health.

Probiotics, beneficial bacteria in foods and supplements, can contribute to a balanced gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is closely connected to liver health, as it helps prevent the leakage of harmful toxins into the bloodstream.

Probiotic enzymes, specifically, can aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, potentially reducing the burden on the liver. While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms at play, incorporating probiotics into your diet may support liver health.

It's advisable to consult with a healthcare provider before adding probiotic supplements to your routine, especially if you have any underlying health conditions related to the liver.


Our journey through high liver enzymes has been quite enlightening.

We learned that AST and ALT are like the liver's caretakers. Too many of them, however, might mean trouble.

Symptoms aren't always as clear-cut as jaundice or bloating - even itchy feet can signal elevated enzyme levels.

AST to ALT ratios gave us a peek into different liver conditions. Remember how our silent hero could heal himself? But only up to a point!

Lifestyle choices do matter! From diets and fasting routines to medication use and eating more veggies - all these help support our unsung champion.

The path to managing high liver enzymes symptoms and treatment starts with understanding. You've taken your first step today. Now let's keep walking towards better health together!


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