Gamma-glutamyl transferase or GGT is an enzyme present in the liver, which helps in carrying amino acids and peptides into the body cells. The maximum blood level of GGT that is considered healthy is 45 units/liter for females and 65 units/liter for males. Increased GGT indicates fatty liver disease and heart disease and is considered a risk factor for increased mortality. Fortunately, you can reduce GGT levels by taking certain measures.
How to Lower GGT Levels?
- Glutathione: It is the primary antioxidant of your body and helps in fighting free radicals; thereby, guarding the body from oxidative stress. The levels of GGT and glutathione are related inversely. Break down of glutathione can occur due to increased GGT, leading to its reduced levels and little protection from free radicals. Presence of insufficient glutathione results in damage to health. Boosting levels of glutathione can help in lowering your levels of GGT.
- Protein: Some types of protein can raise levels of glutathione; thereby, decreasing GGT levels. Such proteins are eggs, poultry and whey protein-they contain cysteine, which is an amino acid playing a vital role in the production of antioxidant glutathione. Other proteins which decrease GGT levels are nuts and legumes. Cysteine is not present in red meat including beef and pork and they may raise GGT levels.
- Fruits and Vegetables: How to lower GGT levels? Consuming vegetables and fruits may help in lowering your levels of GGT. It has been found that eating 10-11 servings of frozen or fresh vegetables in a week reduces GGT. Furthermore, drinking juice of fruits 6-7 times in a week and consuming 5-6 servings of fruits in a week can reduce your GGT levels significantly. Specifically, vegetables and fruits those are rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene such as romaine lettuce, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin and apricots can reduce your serum GGT levels and provide you powerful antioxidants.
- Milk Thistle: Extract of whole plant of milk thistle is a commonly used natural therapy for disorders of liver. In a cohort study of 51 patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, it was given at a dosage of 200 mg three times a day for 4 months and it showed a reduction in A1C from 7.8% to 6.8%. The herb also reduced liver enzymes AST and ALT. In another study a mean reduction in A1C was shown from 7.9% to 7.2% in 30 patients suffering from diabetes and alcoholic liver cirrhosis who were treated with milk thistle at a dose of 600 mg per day.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): How to lower GGT levels? NAC is also a common nutrient that is used for liver problems. In a study, it was found that 600 mg of NAC given per day to patients suffering from non-alcoholic liver disease reduced GGT from 62.7to 46.3 IU/L.
- Statin Drugs: Though no evidence exists to prove the fact that statins decrease GGT, but they decrease CRP, which has a strong correlation with GGT. It is hard to differentiate the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of statins from their anti-lipid effects.
More Methods You Can Try
- According to several studies, phlebotomy or blood donation decreases GGT and other markers that are associated with diseases of liver and insulin resistance.
- Consumption of coffee in high quantities has been shown to decrease levels of GGT. It occurs as high level of consumption of coffee promotes production of glutathione and body’s natural antioxidants.
- On the contrary, excessive consumption of red meat and alcohol depletes glutathione levels and impairs protection by antioxidants, thereby, increasing GGT levels.
- Furthermore, GGT levels are increased by taking some antiseizure drugs such as phenobarbitol and alcohol phenytoin. Diseases of the liver, viral infections and pancreatitis may also increase levels of GGT.
Go for Checkups Regularly
It may be imperative to test GGT regularly in some persons. According to an Austrian study conducted on 76,000 individuals over 7 years, it was found that not only the initial results of GGT tests were important but also how much the results changed over time modified the initial risks significantly.
Although, a lower initial measurement of GGT always demonstrated less risk in comparison to higher; however, persons whose GGT levels rose over time were prone to greater risk for mortality and morbidity, whereas, persons whose GGT levels declined were prone to reduced risks. Moreover, the risk of morbidity and mortality is significantly more in males and females less than 65 years of age in comparison to older people.
How to Have GGT Level Test
After discussing how to lower GGT levels, let’s discuss how to have GGT level tested.
Preparing for the Test
You may be instructed by your physician to fast for 8 hours before taking the test and also to stop taking certain drugs. You have to also not consume any alcohol within 24 hours of taking the test as it may affect the results.
What Is the Procedure of the Test?
GGT level is measured in a regular blood test. The blood is drawn via a syringe from the arm. The physician will place an elastic band on your arm so that your veins become prominent. A needle is inserted and blood is drawn and collected in a vial. You may feel slight throbbing and develop small bruise at the site of insertion of the needle.
What Do My Results Indicate?
The results are usually available the next day. The normal range is 9-48 units/liter (U/L). Normal values of GGT may vary according to sex and age.
Liver damage can be diagnosed by GGT test, but the cause can’t be determined. In case your GGT is elevated, you may require more tests. Usually, the more the GGT is elevated, the greater is the damage caused to the liver.
GGT levels may be increased due to the following conditions:
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Deficient flow of blood to liver
- Tumor of liver
- Fatty disease of liver
- Heart failure
- Cirrhosis of liver
- Chronic viral hepatitis
- Excessive use of toxins of certain drugs
GGT is measured in relation to another liver enzyme ALP (alkaline phosphatase). If both GGT and ALP are elevated, it is suspected that you may have problems with your bile ducts or the liver. If only ALP is elevated and GGT is normal, then it can be an indicator of bone disease. GGT may be used in this manner to rule out and diagnose other medical problems.
What Is the Accuracy of GGT?
GGT levels can fluctuate due to many factors. Phenobarbital, barbiturates and certain nonprescription drugs may raise your GGT levels. GGT may also rise with age in females but not in males.
If you were drinking heavily until recently, it may take up to one month for your GGT levels to return to normal. Smoking cigarettes can also increase GGT levels. If your physician thinks that your GGT is affected by drinking alcohol or temporary use of medicines, then they may want you to get the test again.