What is ALT?

ALT stands for Alanine Aminotransferase, which is an enzyme in the liver. These enzymes help the body carry out chemical reactions in the liver and improve liver function.

ALT is therefore important for filtering toxins from the blood, producing bile and storing nutrients.

However, damage or inflammation of the liver causes the liver to release these crucial enzymes into the bloodstream, which can lead to elevated levels of ALT in the body (through blood tests)

Therefore, elevated levels in the bloodstream can be an indicator of liver damage, so lowering ALT levels is very important in this situation.

There are various important lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol consumption (an obvious one!), having a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Can drinking regular or decaf coffee lower elevated ATL levels?

The answer is potentially yes!

Drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appears to lower ALT levels.

“Inverse associations of total and decaffeinated coffee with liver enzyme levels in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999‐2010” Report, published in Hepatology Volume 60, Issue 6, detailed that drinking a cup or more of coffee each day, whether it was caffeinated or decaffeinated, reduces ALT levels.

Is there a difference between the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on ATL levels?

The final conclusion of this Study wrote: “Conclusion: Higher intakes of coffee, regardless of its caffeine content, were associated with lower levels of liver enzymes”.

Another study of 200,000 people from California and Hawaii analysed the risk of liver cancer and chronic liver disease between coffee drinkers and non-coffee-drinkers – and found that:

  • People who drank 2–3 cups of coffee each day had a 38% lower risk of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and 46% lower risk of death from chronic liver disease, compared to non-coffee-drinkers!
  • Those who drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day had a 41% lower risk of liver cancer and 71% lower risk of dying from chronic liver disease.

What is the mechanism behind coffee's impact on ATL levels?

This is still a much discussed question and we do not have all the answers…

Is it the caffeine in coffee that has liver protecting properties? Possible not given decaffeinated coffee appears to give similar benefits.

Or is it down to the antioxidants in coffee?

Or is there another reason?

Either way, this is very promising news for us all!

Important note: People should treat any causes of elevated ALT, such as liver damage or diabetes, with the help and advice of a medical professional. This blog is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. This blog is simply focusing on all news coming out about decaffeinated coffee and caffeine.

September 26, 2019 — Guy Wilmot

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