Are You Drinking Too Much? How Alcohol Consumption Can Affect Your Health

Learn more about liver health—delve into the intricate connections between alcohol consumption, ALT levels, and your overall liver health.

Perrin Braun
By Perrin Braun
Lucia Gcingca
Edited by Lucia Gcingca

Published March 6, 2024.

 A group of people sitting around a wooden table holding glasses of beer.

Many people enjoy a drink now and then. But how is that alcohol affecting your body? The liver is where a lot of your metabolism lives. It filters out harmful substances, like alcohol and toxins, from your blood. But its duties don't end there. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients for your body, produces bile to help you digest those nutrients, stores blood sugar in the form of glycogen, and performs many other essential functions. [1]

So, a healthy liver is critical to your overall well-being and performance. But how can you find out whether your liver is healthy or whether you may have pushed it too far? Well, the best way to monitor your liver health is through a blood test for liver damage biomarkers, such as ALT. 

What is ALT and yhy it's important for liver health?

Found primarily in your liver cells, ALT is an enzyme that plays a role in converting stored glucose into usable energy. [2] When liver cells are damaged, ALT can leak out into your bloodstream. Normally, there is only a small amount of ALT in your blood; higher levels of ALT typically indicate liver injury or inflammation.

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Optimal ALT Range

The normal range for ALT is 10-40 units per liter (U/L) of blood for men and 7-35 U/L for women. Blood tests from InsideTracker will tell you your optimal range for ALT based on your:

If your levels of ALT are elevated, InsideTracker will recommend diet, lifestyle, and supplement changes that can help to reduce your ALT levels.

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What causes elevated ALT?

 Many lifestyle factors can influence your ALT levels, including:

  • Alcohol intake
  • Body weight
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Smoking [3]
  • Muscle damage

*Elevated levels of ALT can signify liver damage or disease. This is why it's important to consult with your physician if you experience increased ALT levels.

» Check out things that can happen when you stop drinking alcohol for a month

ALT and alcohol

One of the more frequent causes of high ALT levels is a condition commonly referred to as a fatty liver, which is a reversible condition that occurs when large amounts of triglycerides (the type of fat typically found in food) accumulate in liver cells. In the United States, alcohol abuse is one of the largest contributors to fatty liver.

Other causes include elevated blood glucose and excess body weight. Disease and certain medications can also increase ALT.

» Are you drinking too much? Learn how alcohol affects your athletic performance

How to lower elevated ALT

 The good news is that many people can lower their elevated ALT with changes in their lifestyle and exercise:

  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Get regular exercise [4]
  • Consider taking probiotic supplements to improve your digestive health
  • Eat a healthy diet

InsideTracker will recommend personalized lifestyle changes to help you decrease your ALT.

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Types of foods that will help lower elevated ALT

What you eat also affects ALT. Limiting high-fat foods, especially ones that are derived from animal sources, may help decrease elevated ALT levels. High-fat foods increase fat levels in your blood, which may end up being deposited in the liver. Helpful changes include:

  • Choosing lean proteins: Chicken breast, fish, beans, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars: Instead, eat whole foods like beans, whole grains, berries, oatmeal, and vegetables, which provide fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Eating foods high in folate: Studies have shown folate helps to reduce ALT and improve liver health. [5] Foods include black-eyed peas, fortified breakfast cereals, Brussels sprouts, and avocado.  

» Find out how you measure your health and wellness

Optimizing your liver health by monitoring ALT levels

With the InsideTracker's Ultimate test, you can easily check whether you have elevated ALT and learn how to improve your liver health using simple interventions such as food, supplements, exercise, and lifestyle changes.