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When we think of the major organs of the body, many of us automatically consider the heart, lungs, and brain. There is another, equally important organ which helps us every minute of every day, and is sometimes the unappreciated sibling. That’s why we have decided to take some time to celebrate the liver!
What is the Liver?
Not just an unappetizing option on a dinner menu, your liver is also a hugely important organ and the largest in the human body. It sits up under your rib cage within your abdomen and grows to roughly the size of a football upon reaching adulthood. It performs many functions which are crucial to good health, and for this reason, keeping your liver healthy is an important job.
What Can It Do?
The liver can perform many functions, such as:
Cleaning The Blood
Many tasks which occur in your body can create toxins. For instance, breaking down proteins is beneficial for your overall health, but can leave unpleasant toxins floating around within your blood, which must be dealt with before they cause damage. The liver acts as a filter, catching these toxins and breaking them down into harmless substances before overseeing their removal from the body.
It’s not just toxins. The liver also helps to clean blood which is enriched with vitamins and minerals during digestion. Here, it acts as a sorting office. When something is eaten, the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals pass from the intestine to the blood and are carried to the liver. Here, they are processed. The things that can be beneficial are formed into positive elements which the body can use and sent on its way. Any waste products are carried back into the intestine by bile and excreted out of the body. Other waste travels from the blood to the kidneys and is also released as a waste product.
During the digestion process, your body has to take everything it needs from the food you have eaten, and this includes fat. A second important function of the liver is to create the bile as mentioned above. Bile is a digestive juice which is formed by the liver. It helps the body absorb fat into the bloodstream, and is found in the gallbladder as a thick, yellow-green substance. It is stored here until the body needs to digest fats.
Carbohydrates are another critical element of food and are broken down in the body as glucose. This substance is the primary form of fuel for our cells. When the glucose is stored in the liver, it is called glycogen and works almost as ‘back-up fuel,’ if the body needs a quick boost of energy, or if the glucose level drops, the liver can break down the glycogen, and release glucose back into the bloodstream.
The liver is a multitasker. In addition to all the above, it is the organ responsible for making cholesterol, helping blood to clot, and allowing pain relief to work by breaking down the active ingredient in medications.