Understanding the work of liver enzymes

November 12, 2012

Understanding the work of liver enzymes

What is so important about liver enzymes?

Raised levels of enzymes in the liver are a probable indication of a serious medical condition affecting the liver. Liver enzymes may well be elevated due to excess weight – successful weight loss will do much to normalize the levels of these essential enzymes with the added benefit of improving the health and function of the liver.

Liver diseases such as cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer, can all be caused by excess fat in the liver cells. Eating a healthy, well balanced diet in order to lose excess pounds and maintain a healthy weight as well as taking part in regular exercise are both essential in reducing both the level of fat in the liver and the levels of liver enzymes.

The role of the liver

A healthy, well functioning liver with the correct levels of liver enzymes is essential for body function. The liver is responsible, through the production of bile, for breaking down the fats ingested in our diet and transforming the essential nutrients so that they can be efficiently used by the body. The liver is also responsible for converting glycogen into the glucose used as energy by the body.

Liver enzymes are used by the body to detoxify any harmful ingested – such as the chemicals and pollutants we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Liver enzymes – essential for liver health

Maintaining normal levels of liver enzymes is an essential part of healthy liver function. These proteins are involved in the chemical reactions that take place in the liver and which deal with the metabolism, storage, filtration and excretion of the many elements required by the body for normal, healthy function.

There are two groups of enzymes in the liver; high levels of either of these enzymes may cause damage to the cells of the liver resulting in hepatic necrosis or cell death.

  • Aspartate Aminotransferase – referred to as AST
  • Alanine Aminotransferase – referred to as ALT

Choosing a low calorie diet

Following a low calorie diet is not only beneficial to health and essential in losing excess weight it may also reduce any elevated levels of enzymes in the liver. A small study carried out on around 150 obese men and women discovered that, immediately following participation in a low calorie diet the men had a significant reduction in enzyme levels. The enzyme levels in the women volunteers remained slightly raised – researchers determined this mild elevation to be harmless provided it was not a permanent condition.

G.I diet – or gylcemic index diet

Consumption of low G.I foods is an excellent way of reducing fat levels, and thereby enzyme levels, in the liver. Low G.I foods are recognized as foods which are slow to release energy and are efficient at maintaining blood sugar levels. Laboratory studies involving mice have shown that those fed foods with a low G.I had normal levels of fat and a lean body shape compared to those mice fed high G.I foods.


The many benefits of regular exercise cannot be over stated and, yet another benefit is that to liver health. Regular, moderate exercise is essential for overall health and reducing body fat – body fat reduction means that liver fat is also reduced as are the enzyme levels in the liver. Regular exercise boosts energy levels and aids weight loss – another factor likely to contribute to normalizing of enzymes in the liver.

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