Gluten intolerance, elevated liver enzymes and liver damage

You may not know you have gluten intolerance, but you should be very suspicious if you have elevated liver enzymes.

Gluten intolerance, largely a genetic condition, can lead to many health problems. People with bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, fatigue, weight gain, bone or joint pain, tooth enamel abnormalities, depression, infertility, anemia, alopecia areata (hair loss), migraines, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, rheumatism arthritis, or any of dozens of other symptoms, should suspect their disease to be related to gluten intolerance.

Elevated liver enzymes can indicate inflammation or damage to liver cells. Inflamed or injured liver cells release higher than normal amounts of certain chemicals, including enzymes made in the liver, into the bloodstream, which can cause liver enzymes to rise in blood tests. Two common liver enzymes that are regularly tested in most blood chemistry tests are AST (aspartate transaminase) and ALT (alanine transaminase).

AST (aspartate aminotransferase), which was previously called SGOT, can also be elevated in heart and muscle disease and is not specific to the liver. The normal range of AST is 0 to 45 U/L

ALT (alanine aminotransferase), formerly called SGPT, is more specific for liver damage. The normal range of ALT is 0 to 45 U/L

Besides these two enzymes, the liver produces other enzymes, which are special protein-based molecules that allow necessary chemical reactions to occur. Liver enzymes trigger activity in body cells, accelerating and facilitating natural biochemical reactions and maintaining various metabolic processes in the liver.

I regularly see patients who have elevated liver enzymes of “unknown etiology”, which simply means that the cause has not been discovered. A common sign of gluten intolerance is elevated liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes can lead to further damage to other parts of the body besides the liver if the cause of the elevated enzymes is not discovered.

I challenged one of my patients who had elevated liver enzymes as long as she remembered to get tested properly for gluten intolerance. You probably guessed right – she was gluten intolerant. This patient agreed that she should eat gluten-free for the rest of her life. Within a month on an exclusive specialized diet healing plan, his liver enzymes were down to the normal range, the first time since his liver enzymes were tested many, many years ago!

Unfortunately, most doctors still use outdated and inaccurate tests for gluten sensitivity testing. At Johnson Chiropractic Neurology and Nutrition, we use the most advanced and state-of-the-art gluten intolerance testing. The tests we use include tests for genes that predispose to celiac sprue and gluten intolerance (I found out I had one of each), as well as a special test that measures sensitivity to several components (epitopes) of wheat. Until very recently (January 2011), gluten sensitivity testing targeted only one component of wheat; alpha gliadin. Through extensive research, Cyrex Labs has identified the twelve components of wheat that most commonly elicit an immune response. You will want to know more about it specialized testsespecially if you have unexplained elevated liver enzymes.

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