The liver is the most underestimated organ in the human body. It’s involved in over 500 functions and is the largest gland and organ. Surprisingly, it’s also home to about 13% of the body’s blood supply. This organ isn’t messing around, nor should it be messed with. Liver function is essential to optimal health and well-being.
Without it, toxins in the body would interfere with other metabolic processes. Ultimately, this would lead to cell deterioration and death, as well as the decline of the entire organism.
Interestingly, the liver is the only organ in the body that is capable of regeneration. This is important since it works to detoxify the body and is met with various toxins, such as alcohol, while doing its job.
In most individuals, the liver weighs around 3 pounds or about 1.5 kilograms. Located in the upper-right side of the abdominal cavity, it’s a triangular-shaped organ with four lobes. Within each lobe are thousands of lobules, which consist of liver cells called hepatocytes. These cells carry out various functions of the liver, including those outline below.
Bile, a fluid containing fat and cholesterol, is produced by the liver but stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder releases the bile when the body signals that fats are present in the digestive tract. The bile flows into the small intestine, helping with the digestion of fats and proteins.
The liver acts as a storage department for various entities in the human body. It stores vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K, as well as iron and copper. Surprisingly, this organ will sometimes keep many years worth of these vitamins in storage.
The iron that the liver keeps is released by hemoglobin in the body along with bilirubin. While the liver works to absorb and metabolize bilirubin, the iron is eventually used for the formation of hemoglobin to create new red blood cells. Copper and other vitamins are also released as needed.
The hormone insulin signals to the liver to store sugar, or glucose, in the form of glycogen. Another hormone, glucagon will signal to the liver to release glycogen when blood sugar is low. Glycogen gets converted to glucose which is then released into the bloodstream, helping maintain energy levels and homeostasis in the body.
Scientific analysis of the liver considers this organ “immunological.” This means that the liver has many essential immune functions. These include the production of immunity proteins, residing immune cells, and detoxification of the body.
The immune cells residing in the liver are called Kupffer cells. These cells effectively destroy and eliminate the risk of any disease-causing substances that come through the gut. But that’s not all the liver does to help with immune function. It also effectively removes toxins from the body, as described below.
The liver receives blood through the hepatic portal vein. It, then, takes any toxic substances and effectively renders them harmless. From there, the liver ensures that these substances are taken to the organs that excrete them from the body.
This organ further filters excess hormones, such as estrogen and aldosterone, from the body, also sending them to the organs that successfully eliminate them from the body and its systems. Ultimately, this prevents imbalances, disease, and dysfunction.
The liver plays a major role in ensuring your body is functioning as it should, including synthesizing certain hormones. Your hormones act as regulatory substances that stimulate or inhibit specific functions. In fact, the liver is involved in the balance of your sex hormones, thyroid hormones, angiotensinogen hormone, and more.
You can’t live without your liver. And when the liver is in bad shape, your quality of life and health may drastically decline. This is why it’s important to take care of this organ and ensure it’s functioning at its peak capacity.
Learn More 'The Importance of Keeping Your Liver Healthy'
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