The Biomarker Handbook is a curated series that seeks to provide readers with insights on each biomarker we cover in our blood test packages and its relation to our body.
Over the years, people have become more aware of the importance of liver biomarkers. Additionally, the technology used to utilize the data captured from them is advancing every year. More specifically, biomarker research in hepatology is gaining momentum. Global liver disease, the absence of early symptoms and invasive liver biopsies are among the key reasons for its extensive research.
What are Liver biomarkers?
With the development of new therapeutics, the demand for information on liver biomarkers has steadily risen. The main role of these biomarkers measures the toxicity of the organ. It also helps in identifying the extent of damage caused due to its malfunctioning.
Types of biomarkers
The biomarkers that relate specifically to the liver are:
- SGPT (Serum Glutamic-Pyruvic Transaminase): This enzyme affects the metabolism of proteins in our body.
- SGOT (Serum Glutamic-Oxalocetic Transaminase): This enzyme aids in the absorption of alanine.
- GGT (Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase): Increasing levels of GGT is an indicator of liver or bile duct damage.
When do you need to test your liver biomarkers?
Your liver is an extremely important organ and performs a multitude of tasks. It is highly involved in digesting, absorbing and processing food. However, its main function is to filter the blood that comes from the digestive tract. Another crucial function of the liver is to detoxify chemicals and metabolize drugs. Therefore, it is important to keep your liver healthy and know when to test for any liver abnormalities.
One main instance when the liver function needs to be tested is when infection is suspected. Several symptoms associated with infections and disease are fever, abdominal pain or loss of appetite.
Additionally, liver damage may cause scarring due to prolonged exposure to toxins or from viral infections. Doctors often use biomarkers to monitor and determine the efficacy of treatment in people suffering from liver disease.
How often do you need to check your biomarkers?
A general rule for liver tests would be to go for one every three months. If your levels fluctuate due to a minor issue, this provides the liver’s biomarkers with enough time to return to normal. Additionally, for people diagnosed with liver disease, this three-month window allows for treatment to possibly change the biomarker levels. This gives your doctor an indication of whether the treatment is working, or if alternative measures should be sought.
What should you do when your biomarkers are abnormal?
Medication may not always be the answer to abnormal biomarker levels. Instead, you may opt for natural remedies to return the biomarkers to their normal state. In other cases, chronic medication needs to be taken to ensure proper liver function. Biomarker tests are designed to determine whether or not there is organ damage, it does not give the cause for the disease.
In some instances, the cause is quite obvious, as in the case of severe alcohol abuse. In these cases, the obvious cause of the damage needs to be removed to initiate the healing process. There are other instances where a patient may lead a healthy life and the cause of the damage is unclear. In these instances, you should opt to go for testing for more conclusive results.
No matter the result, it is always a good idea to be proactive and assess your diet and remove substances that might be preventing your liver from functioning optimally. This will allow the liver to heal itself. There are also various foods that boost liver function. This includes leafy greens, fresh herbs and fruits high in anti-oxidants. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to add liver supplements to your diet.
These supplements can consist of combinations of herbs such as dandelion and artichoke. Along with these, it is inclusive of amino acids and vitamins B, C and E.
With the ability to detox our bodies of harmful substances, the liver is essential to our survival. Aim to go for tests every 3 months and keep an eye out for any alarming signs or symptoms. Remember to stay healthy this Christmas and end 2017 on the right foot!
If you’re interested in learning more about what you can do to detox, take a look at our lifestyle article here!
Interested in other biomarkers, check out the rest of The Biomarker Handbook.
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