The liver is one of the wonders of the human body. The powerhouse of the digestive system, the liver is responsible for 500 functions that help keep the body healthy. Weighing over three pounds, the liver is roughly the size of a football and is the second-largest organ in the human body. Found in the upper right of the abdomen area, below the diaphragm and just under your ribs, the liver holds up to 13% of a person’s blood supply and the liver function(s) make up most of the digestive system. Let’s take a closer look at this organ, and how you can keep it healthy and keep liver problems at bay.
What does the liver do?
The major functions of the liver include the metabolic processes of the body. The liver facilitates the breaking down and conversion of substances, such as glycogen to glucose, (and then storing the excess,) as well as removing toxins from the bloodstream. All of this is done when the liver receives blood containing nutrients from the digestive organs. The various cells in the liver receive and filter out the toxins from the blood and then act as a sorting center, processing nutrients and deciding what should be stored, eliminated, or sent back to the blood.
Another function of the liver is to store fat-soluble vitamins and minerals such as copper and iron. It then releases them when the body needs them. The liver also breaks down fats in a person’s diet, and either metabolizes or releases them as energy. In addition, the liver produces an estimated 800 to 1,000 milliliters (ml) of bile each day. This bile is transported to the small intestine which uses the bile to further help with the breakdown and absorption of fats.
Production and decomposition of proteins is also a function of the liver as well. The byproduct of breaking down amino acid proteins is called ammonia. Because large amounts of ammonia can be toxic to the body, the liver turns it into a substance called urea which is ultimately excreted from the body in urine.
Along with all of these functions, the liver is responsible for many other processes and functions that are necessary for your body to thrive. As such, it is very important that you maintain proper liver health.
Keep your liver healthy.
Unfortunately, many diseases target the liver and inhibit their functions. Common liver conditions include hepatitis, biliary atresia, cirrhosis, hemochromatosis, and fatty liver disease. When any of these health conditions are present, the liver will not function properly and as a result, some of its processes will be slowed or halted. When this happens, you could become very sick very quickly, and it could even result in death. With so many essential functions, it is important to do everything that you can, to prevent any adverse effects brought on by liver disorders and instead promote good liver health.
To protect your liver, you should first consider limiting your alcohol intake. A few alcoholic beverages can actually be good for you, but try to keep intake down to one or two times a week. Any more, and you risk gradual liver damage. Next, getting regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart muscle and allows it to pump blood more freely. As this occurs, your pulse slows down and blood flow improves, making it easier for your heart to get blood to the liver, and then for your liver to send filtered blood back. Finally, watching what you eat could also lead to better liver health and function. Almost every clinical study will claim that consuming healthy saturated fatty acids like those found in avocados, eggs, nuts, and coconuts can help reverse inflammation and scarring in the liver. Doing these few simple things could help maintain your liver health.
If you want to provide an extra boost for your liver, you can try introducing milk thistle to your diet. Silymarin is found in milk thistle products and is considered to be an anti-inflammatory. Plus, it is one of the most commonly used herbal supplements for liver health in the United States. Milk thistle supplement has been shown to promote cell repair and ease inflammation in the liver. The milk thistle plant has often been connected with good liver health and it is recognized by many natural supplement specialists as a good way to prevent liver conditions.
With so many responsibilities of your liver, you must keep it in good working order. Taking care of your liver could be vital to preventing liver disease and maintaining your overall health.