The Liver And Its Functions
The liver is a very vital part of our body, we cannot survive without it, in today’s post, I will be looking at the liver and its functions.
What Is The Liver
The liver is a very important organ in the body, it weighs about 3 lbs reddish-brown in color and has a rubbery feel to the touch, it sits on the right side of the belly protected by the rib cage.
The liver has two sections refer to as the right and left lobes, The gallbladder, and parts of the pancreas and intestines are right under the liver
The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.
The main job of the liver is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body
The liver makes proteins that are important for blood clotting and other functions. It also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs.
The liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines.
The liver receives blood from two major sources,m the portal vein which brings in nutrient-rich blood from the digestive system, and the hepatic artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart.
The blood vessels are divided into small capillaries, with each ending in a lobule (lobe).
Lobules are the functional units of the liver and consist of millions of cells called hepatocytes. Blood is removed from the liver through three hepatic veins.
According to Medical News Today https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305075.php#functions
The liver is classed as a gland and associated with many functions. It is difficult to give a precise number, as the organ is still being explored, but it is thought that the liver carries out 500 distinct roles.
The major functions of the liver include:
- Bile production: Bile helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats, cholesterol, and some vitamins. Bile consists of bile salts, cholesterol, bilirubin, electrolytes, and water.
Absorbing and metabolizing bilirubin
- Absorbing and metabolizing bilirubin: Bilirubin is formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin. The iron released from hemoglobin is stored in the liver or bone marrow and used to make the next generation of blood cells.
Supporting blood clots:
- Supporting blood clots: Vitamin K is necessary for the creation of certain coagulants that help clot the blood. Bile is essential for vitamin K absorption and is created in the liver. If the liver does not produce enough bile, clotting factors cannot be produced.
- Fat metabolization: Bile breaks down fats and makes them easier to digest.
Metabolizing carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are stored in the liver, where they are broken down into glucose and siphoned into the bloodstream to maintain normal glucose levels. They are stored as glycogen and released whenever a quick burst of energy is needed.
Vitamin and mineral storage: The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It keeps significant amounts of these vitamins stored. In some cases, several years’ worth of vitamins is held as a backup. The liver stores iron from hemoglobin in the form of ferritin, ready to make new red blood cells. The liver also stores and releases copper.
Helps metabolize proteins: Bile helps break down proteins for digestion.
- Filters the blood: The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including hormones, such as estrogen and aldosterone, and compounds from outside the body, including alcohol and other drugs.
Immunological function: The liver is part of the mononuclear phagocyte system. It contains high numbers of Kupffer cells that are involved in immune activity. These cells destroy any disease-causing agents that might enter the liver through the gut.
Production of albumin: Albumin is the most common protein in blood serum. It transports fatty acids and steroid hormones to help maintain the correct pressure and prevent the leaking of blood vessels.
Synthesis of angiotensinogen: This hormone raises blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels when alerted by the production of an enzyme called renin in the kidneys.
noun Biology Regrowth of lost or destroyed parts or organs.
The liver can regenerate completely, as long as a minimum of 25 percent of the tissue remains, not only can the liver regrow to its previous size but it does so without any loss of function during the regrowth process.
It takes approximately 5 to 7 days to regrow to its original size, the new growth of liver tissues becomes indistinguishable from the original tissue in a few weeks.
Diseases that can affect the Liver
Although the liver has the ability to generate itself it is important that the liver is healthy, in a diseased or malfunctioning liver, the consequences can be dangerous or even fatal
Here is a list of diseases that can affect the liver
Examples of liver disease include:( https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/)
Fasciolosis: This is caused by the parasitic invasion of a parasitic worm known as a liver fluke, which can lie dormant in the liver for months or even years. Fascioliasis is considered a tropical disease.
Cirrhosis: This sees scar tissue replace liver cells in a process known as fibrosis. This condition can be caused by a number of factors, including toxins, alcohol, and hepatitis. Eventually, fibrosis can lead to liver failure as the functionality of the liver cells is destroyed.
Hepatitis: Hepatitis is the name given to a general infection of the liver, and viruses, toxins, or an autoimmune response can cause it. It is characterized by an inflamed liver. In many cases, the liver can heal itself, but liver failure can occur in severe cases.
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC): PSC is a serious inflammatory disease of the bile ducts that results in their destruction. There is currently no cure, and the cause is currently unknown, although the condition is thought to be autoimmune.
Fatty liver disease: This usually occurs alongside obesity or alcohol abuse. In fatty liver disease, vacuoles of fat build-up in the liver cells. If it is not caused by alcohol abuse, the condition is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Gilbert’s syndrome: This is a genetic disorder affecting 3 to 12 percent of the population. Bilirubin is not fully broken down. Mild jaundice can occur, but the disorder is harmless.
Liver cancer: The most common types of liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. The leading causes are alcohol and hepatitis. It is the sixth most common form of cancer and the second most frequent cause of cancer death.
- Diet: As the liver is responsible for digesting fats, consuming too many can overwork the organ and disturb it from other tasks. Obesity is also linked to fatty liver disease.
- Moderate alcohol intake: Avoid consuming more than two drinks at a time. Drinking too much alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver over time.
- Avoiding illicit substances: These can overload the liver with toxins.
- Caution when mixing medications: Some prescription drugs and natural remedies can interact negatively when mixed.
- Protection against airborne chemicals: When painting or using strong cleaning or gardening chemicals, the area should be well ventilated, or a mask should be worn. Airborne chemicals can cause liver damage because the liver has to process any toxins that enter the body.
- Travel and vaccinations: Vaccination is essential if you are traveling to an area in which hepatitis A or B might be a concern. Malaria grows and multiplies in the liver, and yellow fever can lead to liver failure. Both diseases can be prevented by oral medication and vaccination.
- Safe sex: There is no vaccination for hepatitis C, so caution is advised in regards to safe sex, tattoos, and piercings.
- Avoid exposure to blood and germs: Receive medical attention if you are exposed to the blood of another person. It is also important not to share personal items related to hygiene, such as toothbrushes, and to avoid dirty needles.
Despite its ability to regenerate, the liver depends on being healthy to do so. The liver can mostly be protected through lifestyle choices and dietary measures.
Healthy Diet for a Healthy Liver
Vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt & sugars
- Whole grains and other fiber-rich foods
- Poultry and fish preferably without skin
- Lean cuts of meat
- Fish at containing omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. salmon, trout and herring)
- Fat-free dairy (skim) or low-fat (1%)
- Avoid foods with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat, a better choice would be better fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars
- Choose foods with less sodium
It is best to take care of your health, to avoid the illness that can occur. This is the only body we have so we should take care of it.
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