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Understanding Liver Health: The Importance of Liver Function Blood Tests

Understanding Liver Health: The Importance of Liver Function Blood Tests

The liver is a necessary organ of the body that plays a role in several bodily functions. It disposes of old red blood cells and harmful toxins in the bloodstream, produces necessary chemicals, creates bile to break down food in digestion, stores energy, and many other functions. Maintaining a healthy liver is imperative so that it’s in optimal condition to perform these roles.

In this blog, we’ll look at the following topics:


The Role of the Liver in Metabolism

The primary function of metabolism is to provide the body with energy. The liver’s role in this chemical reaction is metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for the body to use. Excess glucose (sugar) from your foods and drinks is converted into glycogen (energy storage). This is all done in order to maintain steady blood sugar levels in a process called glycogenesis.

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The Theriome 12: A Comprehensive Metabolic Blood Test

At Theriome, we offer a distinctive approach to evaluating health, setting us apart from other at-home microbiome test kits. Our focus centers on 12 vital metabolic foundations, giving you a comprehensive overview of your overall well-being. These encompass:

  • Liver Health
  • Gut Health
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Inflammatory Score
  • Environmental Toxin Exposure Index
  • Neurocognitive Index
  • Nutritional Index
  • Mutation Load
  • Aging Index
  • Integumentary Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Mitochondrial Health

For each of these foundations, you will receive your results in the form of a personalized score ranging from 1 to 10, allowing you to take charge of your health journey.

Spotlight on Liver Health as a Key Metabolic Pillar

As one of our metabolic pillars, our test will assess your liver’s performance and resilience against toxins and metabolic stress. 

Toxins are naturally produced by living organisms and can come from your surrounding environment, cellular waste products (lactic acid, ammonia, carbon dioxide), and bacteria in the digestive tract. Metabolic stress occurs when the body needs more energy or resources to power physical activities, nutrient imbalances, or cellular damage. 

Why Liver Health Matters

Your liver must be healthy and functioning correctly to perform its vital tasks. Poor liver health leads to many complications, including infections, gastrointestinal problems, and electrolyte deficiencies.

Functions of the Liver

Being the largest organ in the body, the liver contributes to numerous functions in the body. The liver performs several essential functions, including:

  • Detoxification of harmful substances
  • Regulation of blood sugar levels
  • Production of essential proteins and bile

Because of these crucial functions, the liver is susceptible to various stressors and is one of the body's organs most prone to damage.

Detoxification of Harmful Substances

The liver works to eliminate toxins and other harmful substances such as bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs taken. These substances can lead to different diseases and complications when they reach unhealthy levels. The liver can maintain a healthy equilibrium by regulating and flushing these out. A healthy person’s liver works to detox and purify the blood by removing toxins and unwanted byproducts while collecting nutrients to source to other areas of the body.

Regulation of Blood Sugar Levels

The liver regulates blood sugar levels by balancing how much glucose (sugar) is stored and released. It keeps the blood sugar levels circulating in the body’s system, giving you the proper amount of fuel.

Production of Essential Proteins and Bile

Along with eliminating harmful substances from the blood and body, the liver also produces essential plasma proteins, such as albumin, to help blood clot. Bile production and elimination also occur in the liver. Bile assists in digestion by helping to break down fats into fatty acids to store energy, insulate the body, and protect vital organs.

The Impact of Toxins and Metabolic Stress on the Liver

While the liver is in charge of eliminating harmful substances from the body’s bloodstream, constant exposure to the byproducts of these toxins can cause damage over time. The liver is resilient and designed to take on toxins and stress at great capacities. Still, certain lifestyles and environmental exposures, when prolonged, can begin to take a negative effect, such as:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Excessive acetaminophen usage
  • High intake of refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (found in soda, candy, pastries, etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Intravenous drug abuse (injecting drugs for non-medical purposes)

Consequences of Poor Liver Health

As the liver's health declines, several complications may develop - Some of the most common of these being liver disease, hepatitis, and liver failure.

Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease occurs when there’s fat present inside of your liver that interferes with its functions. Fatty liver disease affects more than 25 percent of the U.S. population. This fat typically develops due to consuming excess calories, causing a build-up. When calories are consumed in greater amounts than the liver can process and break down, the fat accumulates. Fatty liver disease tends to develop in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes.


Hepatitis is liver inflammation that occurs due to factors like heavy alcohol use, certain medications, and medical conditions. There are several types of hepatitis, like hepatitis A and E, which typically go away on their own. 

Other forms of hepatitis, such as hepatitis B, can lead to serious complications if left untreated. The most common are hepatitis A, B, and C, with an estimated 2.7 – 3.9 million people in the United States having chronic hepatitis C.

Cirrhosis and Liver Failure

Cirrhosis causes scar tissue in the liver to develop, interfering with its ability to function correctly. In extreme cases, untreated cirrhosis can worsen to the point of liver failure. Cirrhosis usually develops due to conditions like hepatitis B or C or excessive alcohol consumption. Damage to the liver cannot be reversed, and some patients may require a liver transplant once it reaches a certain severity.


The Liver Function Blood Test: What It Is and Why It's Essential

Liver function tests measure the substances your liver produces to inform you and your doctor about your liver’s overall health. For example, tests with abnormally high or low levels of certain enzymes and proteins can indicate liver problems.

Components of a Liver Function Blood Test

This test examines several substances within the blood sample, including the total proteins, enzymes, and bilirubin. Looking at these in more depth, the most commonly tested substances include:

Aspartate Aminotransferase/Aspartate Transaminase (AST)

AST is an enzyme found throughout the body but mainly contributes to liver health. If a test shows high levels of AST in the liver, it can suggest liver disease caused by scarring or death of liver tissue (cirrhosis).

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)

A test showing high levels of the enzyme ALT can point to possible liver damage from liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and other infections or illnesses.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)

ALP is an enzyme located in the liver and bone that assists in breaking down proteins. High levels of ALP may indicate an issue in the liver, whether that be damage, liver disease, bone disease, or a blocked bile duct.

Bilirubin Levels

Bilirubin is produced in the liver during the breakdown of red blood cells. High levels of bilirubin are a sign of possible liver damage or disease, as well as other issues such as liver duct blockage and certain types of anemia.

Interpreting the Results

Once a liver function blood test is completed, the sample is sent to the lab for review. There, they will examine each targeted substance to determine whether they’re at healthy levels.

Normal vs. Elevated Levels

“Healthy” or “unhealthy” levels will vary depending on the substance and person whose sample was taken.

Problems with liver function are indicated in the following levels:

Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) Men: Higher than 10 to 40 units/L
Women: Higher than 9 to 32 units/L
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) Men: Higher than 29 to 33 IU/L (international units/L)
Women: Higher than 19 to 25 IU/L
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP) Higher than 147 international units/L (IU/L), the average range is 44 to 147 IU/L
Bilirubin Test Levels Higher than 1.2 mg/dL (milligrams per decilitre), the average range is 0.3mg/dL

Implications for Liver Health

Along with more cohesive methods such as blood testing, you can consider whether you’re experiencing the following signs of poor liver health:

  • Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine color
  • Pale stool color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easy bruising

Always consult your physician about symptoms you’re experiencing so that you can receive a proper diagnosis.

The Theriome 12's Approach to Liver Health Assessment

The Theriome 12 test analyzes how well your liver performs and its ability to fight against harmful toxins and metabolic stress.

Comprehensive Analysis

Your personalized test includes a detailed health assessment based on a score from 1 to 10. The goal of receiving this specific score for each of the 12 pillars of health is to allow you to take control of your own health. You’ll be able to see where your body’s strengths are and which areas need improvement.

Personalized Recommendations

The information presented in your report aids in identifying potential health issues, improving your choices related to diet and lifestyle, and customizing your medical care to suit your individual needs.

Protecting and Enhancing Liver Health

You can become active in your liver health today. Different lifestyle factors play a role in increasing and decreasing the efficiency of your liver, including your diet, activity levels, the types of medications you take, and how proactive you are in checking in on your health.

Dietary Recommendations for a Healthy Liver

Food is a leading factor in your overall health. What are you consuming on a daily basis? What’s the nutritional value of your food choices? The CDC shares that most Americans don't eat a healthy diet and consume too much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, increasing their risk of chronic diseases.

Foods to Include in Your Diet

Foods to Avoid in Your Diet

  • Alcohol. The liver has to filter alcohol every time it’s consumed, which results in some liver cells dying. While occasional drinking allows the liver time to regenerate cells, overconsumption can reduce this function and lead to severe damage.
  • Fast Food. Constantly reaching for fast food puts you at risk of different health conditions and complications. One study found that eating at least 20% of total daily calories from fast food can increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • High-Sodium. Eating foods with a high salt content can alter the liver cell structure, increase cell mortality, and reduce cell replication, increasing the likelihood of liver fibrosis (the thickening or scarring of tissue).
  • Bread. Sandwich bread, muffins, pizza dough, and other breaded foods lack minerals, fiber, and nutrients that the body needs to function. Many of these products are highly refined and converted to sugar during digestion. Too much of these grains can make it difficult for the body to process, resulting in fat in the liver.

Lifestyle Habits Beneficial for Liver Health

Maintaining a healthy liver involves more than just your diet. How well your liver functions is also influenced by your activity levels and the consumption of specific medications.

Regular Exercise

Exercise increases your energy levels and decreases stress on the liver. One 2023 analysis of 25 studies revealed that exercise significantly reduced ALT levels, which can cause liver damage.

Adults ages 18 to 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week in conjunction with a healthy diet to maintain their overall health.

Avoiding Over-the-Counter Medications and Toxins

Certain medications can contribute to liver disease when taken incorrectly or for extended periods of time. Always speak with your doctor about the medicines you’re taking so you’re aware of the side effects. Some of the medications linked to liver disease include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Aleve, Motrin, and aspirin).
  • Antibiotics like amoxicillin-clavulanate or erythromycin.
  • Statins
  • Arthritis drugs like Methotrexate or azathioprine.
  • Antifungal drugs
  • Niacin
  • Steroids
  • Allopurinol for gout
  • Antiviral drugs for HIV infection

Medical Interventions and Check-Ups

Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle is essential to a healthy liver, but these practices don’t give you actual insight into the state of your liver. Coupling regular blood tests with healthcare appointments gives you the upper hand in your liver health.

Regular Liver Function Blood Tests

Testing for substance levels in your liver keeps you actively aware of any abnormalities. You can use your results to adjust parts of your lifestyle or diet to ensure your liver stays healthy. You can also use your results to be aware of any complications that require immediate attention, such as the onset of liver disease.

Consultation with Healthcare Professionals

Take advantage of meeting with your healthcare providers. They exist to assess your health and provide treatment options. Make sure you’re updating your doctor on any changes to your lifestyle or new symptoms you’re experiencing.

Prioritizing Liver Health for Overall Well-Being

As of 2023, more than 100 million Americans have a form of liver disease. If your liver is working properly, this is directly impacting your metabolic processes. Issues with blood detoxification and unhealthy levels of certain liver enzymes can arise.

Take hold of your liver health today and every day. Visit your doctor for regular check-ups, lead a balanced lifestyle, and utilize informative blood testing. Please contact us today to learn more about Theriome and how we’re changing the metabolic testing market. We look forward to hearing from you.

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