The liver is the second largest organ in the body, weighing around three pounds and responsible for a myriad of essential bodily functions. It is a dark reddish-brown rubbery organ located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity. The liver’s function is to process everything we eat or drink and filter out the harmful substances from the blood. The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile.
Bile breaks down the fats and prepares them for further digestion and absorption. All the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The liver processes this blood and creates nutrients which are then used by the body. It metabolizes drugs, filters chemicals and alcohol from the blood, regulates the hormones and blood sugar levels, stores energy from the nutrients we take in and makes blood proteins and several enzymes that the body needs.
Facts of Organ
Liver is the second largest organ of the body
Weighing in at about 1.36 kg, the liver is the second largest organ in the body after the skin and the largest glandular organ of the human body.
Liver performs around 500 different functions
Our liver performs more than 500 different types of function and that includes neutralizing the toxins in the body, fighting infections and helping to clot blood.
Only organ that grows back
The liver is the only organ in the human body that has the ability to grow back. This makes it possible for a person to donate part of their liver to another person.
Liver is the battery of the body
The liver is the battery of the body. It stocks up on sugar and whenever the body requires, it uses it. Without this energy, the blood sugar levels will fall and the body may eventually slip into a coma.
Liver is the creator of blood
This has to be the most important function that the liver performs. The liver is the place where blood is produced.
Functions of Organ
One of the important jobs of the liver is to act as a filter for the body. Almost all the blood produced in our body passes through the liver. As blood moves through the liver, it breaks down substances such as street drugs, prescription drugs, caffeine and alcohol. Our bodies naturally produce some harmful (toxic) chemicals or poisons, and those are also broken down by the liver. In this manner the liver acts as a filter to clean the blood.
Production of bile
The liver plays an important part in the process of digestion by producing bile. Bile which is a mixture of cholesterol, salts, water is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder. When food reaches the duodenum bile travels the bile duct and reaches the duodenum where it acts upon fats and emulsifies them. Emulsification of fats causes it to break down into smaller pieces which make for easier digestion by the body.
Toxins enter our body when we are exposed to harmful substances but they also result from normal digestion. For instance, when our body digests protein, ammonia is released which is toxic but the liver converts it into the less toxic urea which is then eliminated through the urine. Any waste that is harmful to the body is removed by the liver either through urine or bile.
The liver serves the very important function of storing sugar for use by the body. Glucose which is used by the body to meet its energy needs is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen.
Right and left lobe
The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes both of which are made up of 8 segments. The right lobe is considerably larger than the left lobe. Each segment is made up of a thousand lobules which connected together to small and large ducts ultimately form the common hepatic duct.
The common hepatic duct transports bile produced by the liver cells to the gallbladder and duodenum -the first part of the small intestine. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.
The internal structure of the liver is made of about 100,000 small units known as lobules. Each lobule comprises of a central vein surrounded by 6 hepatic arteries and 6 hepatic portal veins.
The blood supply of the liver is unique among all organs of the body as it receives both oxygenated as well as deoxygenated blood from the body. Blood from various parts of the GI tract is collected in the hepatic portal vein. The hepatic portal vein tin turn delivers this blood to the liver where it is processed before being passed on to the rest of the body.
The tubes that carry bile through the liver and gallbladder are known as bile ducts and form a branched structure known as the biliary tree. The bile produced by the liver is pushed back up peristaltic motion to arrive in the gallbladder for storage, until it is needed for digestion.
Walnuts are rich in the amino acid arginine which helps the liver in removing ammonia from the liver. Walnuts are also high in omega 3 acids and glutathione which support normal liver cleansing actions.
Cabbage is rich in glucosinolate content which helps activate the detoxifying liver enzymes therefore it is a very good vegetable for the liver. Chlorophyll has liver strengthening properties hence consuming green cabbage is recommended.
Avocados are packed with micronutrients and healthy fats. They also help the body produce a compound called glutathione which helps the liver remove toxins and heavy metals from the system.
Tips to support Healthy Liver and natural detoxification:
Avoid Alcohol or take in moderation
The liver can break down and process a small amount of alcohol at a time. For this reason, you should limit your alcohol intake else the liver stands a chance of getting damaged.
Maintain a healthy body weight
Obesity is a major risk factor for developing fatty liver disease. A fatty liver slows down the digestion of fats and leads to the accumulation of more fats. Having a balanced diet, exercising regularly and striving to maintain a healthy BMI are essential for a healthy liver.
Limit Fat intake
Reduce the amount of fat intake in the diet such as hydrogenated fats, saturated fats and trans fats. While hydrogenated and trans fats are found in processed foods, red meat, dairy products and deep fried foods contain saturated fats. The liver stores dietary fat and eventual fat buildup can lead to fatty liver disease.
Avoid over-supplementation with medicines & remedies
Over-supplementation with medicines may cause liver inflammation. As the liver tries to detoxify all the medicines and supplements one consumes, it suffers leading to liver damage or even failure. It is because a lot of some of these remedies contain heavy metals. Taken in large quantities they can result in liver toxicity or they can affect the regular functioning of your liver.
Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B is a good idea to maintain a healthy liver. Hepatitis A is contracted from contaminated food and water while hepatitis B from contaminated blood, needles and sexual contact.
Get regular exercise
Exercising regularly is the key to a healthy liver. Regular exercise increases the energy levels and decreases the stress on the liver. It also helps prevent obesity which is a big contributor to fatty liver disease.
Be careful of weight loss pills
Over-the- counter weight loss pills which are available in the market without a prescription may contain ingredients such as Ephedra which are bad for the liver.
Diseases and Conditions
Weakness is a general feeling of tiredness and fatigue. While some people experience weakness in a particular part of the body, others experience full body weakness. The common causes of weakness are flu, vitamin B 12 deficiency, lack of sleep, side effects of medications, anemia or thyroid disease.
When there is excess cholesterol in the body, it gets deposited in the arteries in the form of plaque. Over time, the plaque hardens leading to a condition called atherosclerosis which increases the risk of heart attack and strokes. A lipoprotein profile test helps measure the cholesterol levels in the body.
Fatty Liver occurs when the body creates excess fats and cannot metabolize it quickly. As a result, the excess fats get stored in the liver causing fatty liver disease. While alcoholism is the primary cause of fatty liver disease, other factors such as obesity, diabetes and genetic make-up also cause this disease.
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