You may not know you have gluten intolerance - but you should be highly suspect if you have elevated liver enzymes.
Gluten intolerance, largely a genetic disorder can cause many health challenges. People who suffer with bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, fatigue, weight gain, bone or joint pain, dental enamel defects, depression, infertility, anemia, alopecia areata (hair loss), migraines, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any of the dozens of other symptoms should suspect their malady to be connected to gluten intolerance.
Elevated liver enzymes may indicate inflammation or damage to cells in the liver. Inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of certain chemicals, including the enzymes made in the liver, into the bloodstream, which can result in elevated liver enzymes on blood tests. Two common liver enzymes regularly tested in most blood chemistries include AST (aspartate transaminase) and ALT (Alanine transaminase).
AST (aspartate aminotransferase), which was previously called SGOT, can also be elevated in heart and muscle diseases and is not liver specific. The normal range of AST is 0 to 45 U/L
ALT (alanine aminotransferase), which previously was 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 help necessary chemical reactions to take place. Liver enzymes trigger activity in the body's cells, speeding up and facilitating naturally occurring biochemical reactions, and maintaining various metabolic processes within the liver.
I regularly see patients who have high liver enzymes of "unknown etiology", which simply means the cause has not been discovered. One common sign of gluten intolerance is elevation in liver enzymes. Elevated liver related enzymes can lead to additional damage to other parts of the body outside the liver if the cause of the elevated enzymes is not discovered.
I challenged a patient of mine who has had elevated liver enzymes as long as she can remember to get properly tested for gluten intolerance. You probably guessed right - she was gluten intolerant. This patient agreed she should eat gluten free the rest of her life. In one month on a proprietary specialized dietary healing plan, her liver enzymes came down into the normal range, the first time since her liver enzymes have been tested many, many years ago!
Unfortunately most doctors still use tests that are outdated and inaccurate for gluten sensitivity testing. At Johnson Chiropractic Neurology and Nutrition we use the most advanced, state-of-the-art testing gluten intolerance. The tests we use include testing for genes that predispose one to celiac sprue and gluten intolerance (I found I have one of each), as well as a special test that measures ones sensitivity to several components (epitopes) of wheat. Until very recently (January, 2011) testing for Gluten Sensitivity has only been against one component of wheat; alpha gliadin. Through extensive research Cyrex Labs, pinpointed the twelve components of wheat that most often provoke an immune response. You will want to learn more about this specialized testing, especially if you have unexplained elevated liver enzymes.