The liver is our largest internal organ, roughly the size of a football and is positioned under the lower rib cage on the right side of the body. It’s also considered a gland because it secretes chemicals used in other bodily functions. The liver is essential for survival as it helps clean our blood by eliminating harmful chemicals, produces bile which helps us break down fats in food and turns glucose into glycogen and stores it for when the body needs a quick burst of energy.
Liver cells also make many proteins required for blood clotting and the maintenance of fluid within the circulatory system. Detoxification is another key responsibility; it converts ammonia into urea which is excreted in the urine by the kidneys. It also breaks down alcohol, drugs, medication, insulin and hormones in the body. Finally, the liver acts as a storage unit in the body for vitamin B12, A, D and K as well as folic acid and iron.
With all of the important processes your liver is responsible for, it makes sense to take really good care of it! Here are some ways to keep it in tip top shape. . .
- Moderate your alcohol intake. It can damage the cells of the organ and leads to scarring called cirrhosis, which can be deadly. The National Institue on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism defines moderate intake as up to four alcholic drinks for men and three for women in any single day with a maximum of 14 weekly drinks for men and 7 drinks for women.
- Exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Doing so will keep you from the risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease which also leads to cirrhosis.
- Watch your intake of painkillers such as acetaminophen as it is damaging to the liver if taken too much.
A healthy diet is also beneficial to the liver. Check back with us next week when we’ll share several foods that are beneficial to the health of your liver!