Your stomach digests food; your heart pumps blood; your kidneys extract waste. So, what does your liver do? You’ll be surprised.
YOUR INCREDIBLE AMAZING LIVER
THE LIVER: ORGAN OR GLAND?
It’s both. It’s your largest internal organ, responsible for hundreds of chemical actions that the body needs to survive. It’s also a gland because it makes chemicals that are used by other parts of your body.
Even if you have to cut out huge chunks of a healthy liver, it can recover by growing back to its proper size. But if you go into liver failure or get cancer of the liver, only a liver transplant can help.
FUNCTIONS OF THE LIVER
Your liver has well over 300 individual functions. For example, it breaks down and rebuilds all the food you eat into usable parts for your body’s cells. It detoxes all the potentially harmful stuff you put into your body. It creates a host of hormones, enzymes, clotting factors, and immune molecules. It also controls blood chemistry—and more. For example, it continuously responds to the body’s energy demands, releasing sugars, vitamins, fats, or other nutrients, as needed. It may even have a role in controlling your appetite and what you decide to eat!
WHAT CAN HURT YOUR LIVER
• Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup may cause fatty buildup and liver disease.
• Some herbal supplements, such as kava kava for menopause symptoms. Check with your doctor before before taking any herbal supplements to be sure they’re safe.
• Being overweight.
• Too much Vitamin A from supplements.
• Taking too much medication containing acetaminophen.
• Man-made trans fats or “partially hydrogenated” ingredients found in some packaged foods and/or baked goods.
• If you’re born between 1945 and 1965, and your mom had Hepatitis C while pregnant with you, you might have Hepatitis C, and should get tested.
• For women, more than one daily alcoholic drink may seriously damage your liver.
FOODS THAT LOVE YOUR LIVER
Fruits, nuts and veggies: Blueberries, spinach, broccoli, cranberries, almonds, grapefruit, carrots, garlic, avocados, apples, olive oil, lemons, limes,
Drinks: Coffee, green tea, water
Spices and herbs: Oregano, sage, or rosemary, cinnamon, curry, and cumin
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• nytimes.com - Basis for article
• rnceus.com - Primary functions of the liver
• healthline.com - Liver-function tests
• boundless.com - 500 functions of the liver
• medicinenet.com - Functions, disease symptoms
• webmed.com - What hurts your liver
• globalhealingcenter.com - Foods that help your liver