What Exactly Does the Liver Do? – Primary Functions of the Human’s Liver
The liver is actually an amazing organ!
Weighing more than 3 pounds, the liver performs a series of functions to keep your body healthy and active.
Lying in the upper part of the abdomen, the liver also holds a large amount of blood.
According to research from the University of Michigan, the liver can perform up to 500 different functions.
It sounds incredible, right? Let’s follow to find out exactly what the liver can do!
Interesting Facts about the Liver
Liver diseases are mostly symptomless
In most cases, liver diseases only show obvious symptoms when they come to the final stage. Many liver diseases including hepatitis and cirrhosis at early stages do not show any symptom even you have complete all the medical tests.
For that reason, the only way to make sure your liver health is to do health check frequently. We recommend you take a new test every six months.
Livers store vitamins and minerals
The liver stores various vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K. For those who do not know, here are the uses of these vital vitamins:
- Vitamin A: keep your eyes, skin, and hair healthy. It is also a great substance in forming your bone and healing wounds.
- Vitamin E: this is an amazing antioxidant that prevents cell damages. Vitamin E also works with vitamin K to produce some other health benefits.
- Vitamin K: this substance I crucial in clotting and forming bone structure.
The liver is the second biggest organ to the skin
Surprisingly, a healthy liver weighs about a small Chihuahua with the size of an ordinary football. Obviously, you cannot feel it with your bare hands and naked eyes.
Enough about the fun facts!
Let’s move onto the most important part of our article: what exactly does the liver do to keep us healthy? We bet you will love your liver a lot more after finding out what the jobs of the liver are!
What Are the Main Functions of the Liver?
The liver holds an array of functions that we cannot list all of them in one article. In this part, we are going to name a few major functions that we usually hear most of the time.
So, what exactly does the liver do? Let’s take a look to find out!
Remove toxic chemicals out of the body
We heard a lot about how the liver cleans toxic chemicals out of the blood. Here is how it works!
As you probably know, all the blood will go through the liver. Here, the liver will extract all of the toxic chemicals and remove them out of the body.
For example, toxic chemicals such as penicillin, drugs and Tylenol, damaged cells, old hormones, etc will find its ways out of the body.
For that reason, once your liver is damaged, your health will suffer terribly as all these toxic chemicals will not be removed and they keep staying in your body causing many fatal problems.
Break down nutrients
Once you take in food, your body starts to break it down into nutrients so that it can consume easily.
Specifically, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals will go through blood and stop at the liver. Here, the liver will take care of these nutrients in various different ways so that your body can consume necessary nutrients.
In many cases, your body only needs a small portion of the nutrients. The rest will be moved to store for other needs.
That explains why people with liver diseases cannot take in healthy nutrients due to their liver failures. Gradually, it may lead to serious conditions such as brain damage.
We all know that proteins are essential to beings. Our bodies are full of protein in various shapes and structures.
The liver is responsible for producing and building proteins so that the body can function normally.
Let’s take this as an example. The liver produces one type of protein to help with the process of clotting blood. Let’s say that you have a cut on your skin, this protein will help clot the wound so it will not bleed anymore.
When your liver is severely damaged, the protein cannot be produced anymore. In this case, a simple cut on your hand may lead to continuous bleeding. Quite dangerous, isn’t it?
Let’s talk a little bit about definitions, shall we?
Bile is basically a fluid that helps digest food such as fat when it is transferred from the stomach to intestines.
The liver is in charge of producing this fluid. So, when you eat your meal that is rich in fat, the body will make use of its bile to consume the fat.
To sum up, as you can see, the liver plays a very important role in keeping your body functions effectively. Any failure in the liver would lead to severe health problems that take a long period of time to recover.
How Can the Liver Regenerate?
Another fun fact about the liver: do you know that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself?
Let’s say that you remove 75% of the liver. The remaining 25% will regenerate itself to the previous size without losing any important functions.
Any even more surprising, the whole process only takes from 8 to 15 days. The regrown part looks and functions completely alike from the previous one. This is one of the most wonderful things the liver can do.
As the liver holds lots of important functions, this regeneration function is extremely important to human beings.
But how exactly can the liver do that? Here is how!
The whole process takes place with the presence of many compounds. Some of them are:
- Epidermal growth factor
- Hepatocyte grown factor
- Transforming growth factor alpha
The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself after a serious injury or a surgery. New cell keeps growing until it gets to its previous size.
Doctors said that if you remove two third of the liver, then it only takes about a week to return to its previous size and weight.
It feels so good to know that, right?
Our liver is actually one of the most amazing organs in the body given what it does to keep us healthy.
Therefore, it is never too late to start leading a healthy lifestyle including regular exercises and moderate diets to avoid any liver failure. One common culprit that leads to liver failure is an excessive intake of alcohol and fat.
Liver-related diseases do not have any obvious symptoms, which may make it pretty hard to diagnose and cure at early stages. We recommend you take regular check-ups to make sure your body, especially your liver is functioning completely well.