Are you having problems with your liver function tests? Maybe you are seeing elevated levels of AST, ALT, or GGT. In this article we look at the foods that affect liver function tests. We answer questions like, what has a bigger impact carbohydrates, fats, or protein and what types of foods you should avoid if you have elevated liver function tests.
If you want to know the foods that affect liver function tests, keep reading.
Liver Function and Food
I get many questions on liver function tests. So I wanted to look a little deeper at some of the foods and specifically the role of macronutrients (carbs protein and fats). To understand this we will review a study that looked at the influence of diet on liver function tests and serum lipids. The researchers were using this to help differentiate the impact from food versus the medication being studied in clinical trials. This was a small study and the diets that they looked at were; a balanced normal caloric diet, a high carbohydrate high calorie diet, and a high fat high calorie diet. Each diet was consumed in a randomized sequence for a total of eight days with a recovery period in between each of the eight days. The researches collected the blood samples from all the patients to see what the impact of each of those diets was on the liver enzymes.
The main summary or conclusion by the authors was there was rise in transaminases and triglycerides based on carbohydrate consumption rather than caloric consumption. Within this high carbohydrate high calorie diet it was sucrose carbohydrates rather than other starches that seem to have the biggest impact. The long and short of it is carbohydrates and specifically sucrose seems to be a big driver for elevated liver enzymes.
Now if you want to know a little bit more details here is a link to the study. I also wanted to point out a few additional things they found. For the ALT the control diet (not high carb not high calorie) was very low. The high fat high calorie diet had a mild rise and the high carb high calorie diet had a very high live function tests. You can see a clear indication of what's going on. The same thing happens with the other liver enzyme tests AST (aspartate aminotransferase). This one did not have as large of an increase but it was still quite high. They also measured GGT which is a less commonly measured liver function test. With GGT the same pattern emerges.
To rule out any impact of exercise, they also measured creatinine kinase. The also controlled for the impact of exercise on liver enzymes by making sure there was no change in exercise routine for two days before the study began.
The conclusions of the study stated, there's a clear relationship between the marked rise in transaminases AST and ALT, and the number of days on the high calorie high carb diet. The same effect was not found on the high calorie high fat diet. There was still a modest increase in the enzymes. They proposed that the increase in enzymes was because this diet did have more carbs due to the calories being higher than the control. That's one hypothesis. Other studies have found that just overall higher calorie consumption can increase these liver function test as well. They also noted that a much higher proportion of the calories in the diet was from sucrose than would occur in a typically diet.
Clearly the sucrose seemed to increase the liver function tests. If you were just eating potatoes or other starches without the sugar you may not see such a large increase. The biggest takeaway is that carbohydrates can and do increase liver function tests. Diet plays a big role on liver function tests and how your liver is actually functioning. As the carbohydrates creep up, your body can't dispose of them enough. When your liver can not dispose of them, they get packaged into a triglyceride. As the triglycerides rise, those excess triglycerides can then start to damage liver cells. Those cells open up and the enzymes get into the blood and we see higher numbers on the test.
Sucrose in particular does this. Sucroses is fructose and glucose together. We also know that fructose itself is even more problematic than sucrose. There are lots of studies on detrimental effects of high fructose corn syrup. Plain fructose from whole fruit can also do this. It is the amplitude of rise of the fructose in the blood and into the liver that dictates how much dame may occur. If you have small amounts over longer periods of time, it's not going to have the same impact as quick rise (the difference in and apple verse apple juice).
We know that alcohol and Tylenol can definitely damage your liver. When it comes to food it's going to be high amounts sugar and fructose. When you eat sugar you will typically want more once you have that taste. So that will cause your liver to have to work overtime to package that sugar up and turn into a triglyceride. If you have elevated liver function tests carbohydrates, sucrose, and fructose are the big things that have a large impact on your liver function.
That should give you a better understanding of the foods that affect liver function tests. If you have questions about the content in this article, please ask it in the comment section below.
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