Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
If I asked you what the most important organ in your body is, what would you answer? You’d probably say, your heart or maybe your brain. Some might even think of their lungs. All these organs are indeed essential to life. But there’s another incredibly important organ, essential to life, that often goes unnoticed: the liver. The liver is the largest solid organ in your body and is responsible for more than 500 functions. More than 500 because its functions are still being explored! We still don’t know the extent of its importance. Our bodies are incredible! Let’s explore 5 things you never knew about your liver and how we can keep it functioning in tip-top shape.
Your liver is the only organ that can regenerate. Liver disease in extremely common and can lead to liver cancer. Liver cancer only occurs in people with a preexisting condition, such as obesity, hepatitis or alcohol abuse. In some cases, individuals have had the diseased portion of their liver removed. Many have gone on to live healthy lives with only part of their liver in tact. This is because it’s able to regenerate to its full size in a matter of mere months.
Your liver breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose: your body’s energy source. It stores glucose in the form of glycogen and is able to tap into it whenever you need a burst of energy! This why low blood sugar means low energy. Be sure to give your liver some complex carbs and whole grains to use as fuel so you don’t crash and burn.
Within the liver are a large number of cells necessary for your body’s immunity. These are called Kuppfer Cells or “KC”. Kuppfer cells are disease-fighting agents that fight off any bad gut bacteria that could make you sick. So when your body is fighting off an infection, thank your liver!
This one is multi-faceted. Firstly, the liver produces bile. Bile is used to break down fat, cholesterol and vitamins so that they can be used by your body. Without your liver, carbohydrates, fats and proteins wouldn’t be able to be metabolized properly. Because of your liver, your body can use fat and carbs for energy rather than just storing them as extra weight. It’s also able to remove excess hormones from the body like estrogen and aldosterone. Too much of these hormones can lead to weight gain. Detoxing your liver may aid your weight loss efforts by enabling your liver to do its job more efficiently.
Perhaps the one thing you already knew about your liver is that it’s your body’s filtration system. It filters impurities and toxins from your blood and aids your digestive system. This is why consuming large amounts of alcohol and medications can be so damaging to your liver. Think of your air filter in your home or your car. What happens to it after a period of time? It starts looking really dirty and gross. It can’t function as well after all that filtering of poisons in your body.
So how do we reboot our liver and keep it functioning well? Even if you don’t use alcohol, the regular breakdown of proteins can create toxins in your bloodstream. Your liver is always filtering out the bad stuff. Taking a supplement with milk thistle and dandelion root is an excellent way to detox your hardworking liver. Turmeric, garlic, green veggies and even drinking tea have also been shown to have detoxing benefits. Basically eating a healthy diet and lifestyle is the best way to care for your liver.
October is Liver Cancer Awareness Month. Visit our Wellness Observance Calendar for more information on keeping your liver healthy.