Your liver consists of our lobes and is found in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen, just under the diaphragm, protected by your rib cage. It weighs a little over 3 pounds or approximately 1.5 kilograms. It is the largest internal organ – our skin being the largest organ – and the largest gland in the body. It is vital to your existence.
It is believed that the liver has upwards of 500 functions which it continually works at to keep your body as healthy as possible, yet we continue to punish this organ with bad diet choices, over-indulgence in fatty foods, alcohol and in some cases over-the-counter medications that may do more harm than good. Even environmental toxins in the air we breathe can damage the liver.
Keeping you Healthy
The liver next to the stomach is actually one of the most important organs in the digestive process. The liver also helps aid the digestive process from the small intestine, helping your body absorb nutrients from food and drink. It is also continually producing and emulsifier called “bile” which helps break down fats and fat soluble vitamins (A, D E and K).Bile is store and concentrated in the gallbladder, until it is needed to help aid in digestion.
The liver also activates B vitamins so they are able to be absorbed into the body. It also stores various nutrients, for release as needed. Most notably of these nutrients are A, D, B12 and Iron. Also the liver helps regulate the body’s cholesterol levels. It not only eliminates bad cholesterol (LDL) from your body, but it also regulates your “good cholesterol” (HDL).
As well, the liver also helps regulate blood glucose (sugar). How it does this is it stores the carbohydrates that we eat as glycogen (Starch), which it can later convert back to glucose in the event that the body’s blood sugar drops below a certain level. The liver does this through a process called glycogenosis.
Amazingly the liver also plays a part in manufacturing most the proteins that are necessary for blood clotting. It also breaks down old blood cells to be eliminated from the body and helps filter out toxins from the blood.
Your liver performs hundreds of functions as it makes and manages chemicals, hormones and enzymes that your body requires for good health. Unlike the aches and pains we feel if something is not working properly, we may feel no pain or ache when the liver is being maltreated. What we can feel is a lack of energy, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. You may also experience weight gain, which can lead to extra wear and tear on the joints and muscles. Cholesterol may begin to build in your arteries which can lead to a stroke or heart attack or your sugar levels may send your into Prediabetes or lead to Type 1 or 2 Diabetes.
Other symptoms may include loss of sleep, kidney problems, slow wound healing, excessive bruising and possible fluid retention. Many of these symptoms cause people to believe this is a normal process of aging, but with a change of diet alone you could over-come these pitfalls and continue to be energized as you age.
Change Your Diet
Most of us already know how we should be eating, but for various reasons don’t. A busy lifestyle is often one of the reasons we don’t take the time to shop or cook for the healthy foods we need, so lifestyle as well as diet needs to be addressed.
Avoid saturated fats and excess salt and sugar found in red meats, dairy products, fast foods, processed, packaged foods, refined sugar snacks and backed goods. Alcohol is a common cause of liver problems as a healthy liver will take approximately and hour to process just one drink.
Currently there is not device that is able to replace all the functions of the liver. Only a liver transplant can help someone suffering from completely liver failure. However, the liver is the only organ inside the body that can regenerate lost tissue naturally; as little as 25% of a liver can regenerate into a whole liver.
There are always those who suggest “fad detox” diets, but it is important to know that they can result in negative side effects as well as vitamin and mineral loss and dehydration. So be careful also educate yourself about any new diet you’re thinking about trying; a good way to do this is to consult your Chiropractor before you give any new diet or supplement.
In closing remember the best way to keep your liver healthy is to eat a balanced diet that includes; vegetables, fruit, whole grains and lean proteins.