The liver is a highly underrated organ. Sure, we don’t see it, and we usually can’t feel it working, nor should we, but the liver is one of those amazing organs keeping us alive. Here are ten facts about the liver that everyone should know:
The Liver Is the Second Largest Organ in the Body
While the skin is the largest organ in the body, the liver is the second largest. On average, the liver is about the size of a football and sits on the right side of the body, alongside the gallbladder.
The Liver Is a Serious Multi-Tasker
The liver can perform up to 500 tasks at the same time. In fact, the liver is so busy that it even gets two types of blood supply, with oxygenated blood coming from the hepatic artery and nutrient-rich blood coming from the hepatic vein.
Among the liver’s functions is the creation of proteins that regulate blood clotting. Now, clotting factors are pretty important. Any issue in clotting can be pretty serious; lack of proper clotting can lead to bleeding, while too much clotting may result in blood clots blocking the blood supply to vital organs.
The liver is also responsible for filtering out bilirubin, which is essentially a by product of broken-down red blood cells. Once a red blood cell completes its life cycle, it is up to the liver to ensure that it is excreted from circulation.
The Liver Filters Blood
While the liver does quite a lot, one of its primary functions is to filter blood from the digestive tract and to go through the rest of the body. While the liver itself requires blood and nutrients to survive, it’s also responsible for filtering all other blood in the body.
Your Liver Fights Toxins
The main goal of filtering blood through the liver is to allow the liver to filter through toxins and medications. As the liver detoxifies chemicals from the blood, it also secretes bile back to the intestines.
The Liver Creates Fat
Another vital liver function is the creation and breakdown of fat. The liver may break fat down into carbs or turn carbs into fat to store that energy for later. This makes the liver an incredibly important part of our metabolism.
It Produces Blood During Development
The liver is the primary blood-producing organ during fetal growth and development. After birth, the role of blood production is taken over by the bone marrow.
The Liver Is Resilient
It is actually possible to donate a portion of your liver, so long as you are a match. This is because the liver is one of the few organs that can regrow after it is damaged. The liver’s ability to recover allows for liver transplants, wherein you can donate a part of the liver from a patient with a healthy liver to a patient with a seriously damaged life. Keep in mind, however, that matching can be extremely complicated.
There Are Things That Can Go Wrong
While the liver is resilient, things can sometimes go wrong. Some potential liver diseases include:
Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by drugs, allergic reactions, or viruses. The treatment and outcome for hepatitis often depend on the underlying cause. For instance, there are several identified variants of hepatitis viruses, and some are easier to treat than others.
This is essentially the scarring of the liver that is most often due to prolonged damage. At this point, the liver is too damaged to heal itself and loses some of its ability to function.
While most gallstones pass through the bile ducts to the gallbladder without incident, sometimes one may get stuck, causing inflammation and infection.
Liver cancer most often, but not always, happens when the liver is already damaged, so people with cirrhosis are at increased risk of liver cancer.
Leading a Healthy Lifestyle Is the Best Way to Keep Your Liver Healthy
Leading an overall healthy lifestyle is the best way to ensure that your liver remains strong and healthy. You should:
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet is a key to overall health, and it can also ensure that your liver functions properly. Because the liver does so much, you might also consider supplements, especially if you’re working out a lot. We recommend checking with your doctor before starting a new supplement. It is also critical to ensure that you are using a reliable supplement like the Revive AE’s TUDCA supplement.
Exercise is key to good overall health, and even as much as fifteen minutes a day could make a difference. While your liver is a very powerful organ, it still relies on your heart for blood, which is why heart health and liver health are strongly tied.
Avoid Risky Overindulgence
Fun things can be risky. While certain drugs and alcohol may be fine in moderation, drinking too much can negatively affect your liver in the long run. Likewise, risky behaviors such as illegal drugs and unprotected sex can also lead to serious problems with your liver.
Get Your Physical
It is recommended that adults see a doctor once per year for a general checkup and physical. The goal of an annual physical is to ensure that you are healthy overall and to identify any potential problems early.
See a Doctor if You Think Something Is Wrong
Some signs of liver problems include pain and jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and eyes. The yellowing occurs because the liver, once damaged, is no longer able to break up bilirubin. However, these are not the only signs of a potential liver problem.
If you suspect that you have a problem with your liver, the best thing to do is to see your primary care doctor. Your doctor will be able to run some preliminary tests and, if a concern is identified, refer you to a specialist for further treatment.