What is total protein?
Total protein is your albumin and globulin levels combined. These are proteins produced by your liver. A total protein test is used to check your liver and kidney function.
What is its function?
Albumin helps transport nutrients and hormones. It also helps grow and repair tissues in your body.
Globulins have a number of important roles in your body, like helping your blood to clot and fighting infections.
What can cause my levels to change?
Low total protein
Low total protein levels can be a sign of liver damage or kidney disease. It might also be a sign that you’re not absorbing food properly — for example, if you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or coeliac disease.
High total protein
High total protein levels can be a sign of chronic inflammation or an infection like viral hepatitis.
What are the most common symptoms?
If your total protein levels are high as a result of liver damage, common symptoms include:
- jaundice — yellow skin and eyes
- nausea and vomiting
- unexplained weight loss
- swelling around your eyes, stomach, or legs
What can I do to change them?
To prevent out of range total protein levels caused by liver damage, avoid too much:
- saturated and trans fats — like fried foods, red meat, cakes, pastries, and cream
- refined carbohydrates — like white bread and white pasta
- added sugars — like fruit juices, fizzy drinks, and sweets
- salt — like frozen foods, salted nuts, and smoked or cured meats
- alcohol — limit to 14 units a week (equivalent to about 6 pints or 7 medium-sized glasses of wine)
High albumin levels can sometimes be caused by dehydration or eating too much protein. So if your albumin level is high, make sure you're drinking enough water and your diet isn't too high in protein.