In the last few posts I have worked my way through the digestive system (not literally of course) but there are some important organs within that system that deserve some personal attention. One of those is the Liver which carries out the important task of ridding our body of toxins and storing essential nutrients for our health.
I remember a teenage client who wondered what all the fuss was about – you could get a transplant couldn’t you? I set him the task of researching the actual operation, first hand accounts of those who had undergone this major operation and the long lasting implications and side effects. Hasten to say he was a lot less cocky about the process on his next appointment.
I have met people who believe that as long as you give up smoking and drinking before you are 40 you will be absolutely fine! Yes, there are individuals who drink like a fish and live to 95 and some of them even smoked too. They also did not have the benefit of our high sugar modern diet and lack of exercise! I also would be tempted to ask them to pick my lottery numbers each week because they are the fortunate ones.
For the rest of us, the earlier we put some thought into the long term care of our major organs the better. I will admit that I was in my late 30’s before I woke up to this fact when given some rather indigestible truths about my prognosis. But better late than never. Part of that care comes from understanding the how, what and where an organ’s role is in our body and health. So here is the Liver – the guardian of our health. Here is the positioning of the liver – higher up in the chest than people imagine which is important when determining symptoms such as pain.
Where is the liver?
Surprisingly the liver is the largest of our internal organs and in fact it is the size of a large melon. Mainly in the upper right side of your abdomen it lies beneath the diaphragm just above your stomach.
What does the liver do?
The liver is a multi-tasking organ, capable of around 500 functions. Before you put rubbish in your mouth, think about the liver as your best friend. Is it going to be happy when this jumbo hotdog, salad cream, on a white bread roll with margarine, onions cooked in lard and the reconstituted chips with lots of salt and large blueberry muffin with a 16oz diet soda hits the system!! Everything you consume including all the preservatives, toxins, lousy fats, drugs, excess sugar will pass through this portal…………
The liver has two essential roles – making or processing chemicals and eliminating toxins and waste. Without this portal system none of the nutrients that we have carefully processed and passed in the intestines could be carried in the blood, through the liver to nourish the body and give us energy.
The liver is the organ but the work horses are the millions and millions of cells it holds. Specialist cells, hepatocytes deal with the raw materials our body runs on – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. We are made of protein and we need to consume high quality protein to renew our cells and create new ones – in its raw state some proteins are not accepted by the body and the role of the liver’s cells is to change the format so that it is usable. Any waste from the liver cell’s processes is not passed back into the blood stream but stored for elimination. Similarly with carbohydrates, the liver cells will convert the carbs into appropriate fuel that can be easily accessed by the body for energy.
The waste disposal cells in the liver are called Kuppfer cells, after the man who discovered them – they are the Dysons of the cell fraternity, sucking up bacteria and toxins before handing over to the hepacytes for processing. This means that the liver is incredibly important for your immune system. The liver also stores iron as well as other vitamins and minerals you need such as B12 and the organ makes clotting factors that stop bleeding after injury.
One of the key roles of the liver in cholesterol management – In spite of an effort to demonise cholesterol it is very important to appreciate the vital roles that it performs in the body. Cholesterol is vital to our digestive system, in that it forms the base for bile acids that are used to emulsify fat in the small bowel so that fat and fat soluble vitamins like E and K can be absorbed…
I treat my liver as the guardian of my health and if you take care of this organ first you will find that will have a very beneficial effect on the optimum balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Next time I will be looking at some of the major diseases of the liver.
©SallyCronin – Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017
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