The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. This organ has so many important jobs. Some of these include processing nutrients, medications, hormones as well as helping prevent infections by removing bacteria and toxins from the blood. The liver weighs about 3 pounds and is located on the right side of the stomach. Think of the liver as about the size of a football. It is protected by the rib cage, so we aren’t able to touch or feel it. This organ is composed of two large lobes on the right and left sides. The liver is assisted by the gallbladder and pancreas to perform its functions which includes the digestion, absorption, and processing of food. Along with its role in the digestive tract, the liver filters blood before it travels to the rest of the body, metabolizes any medications we take, and make proteins for our blood’s health.
As important as the liver is, there are a number of disorders than can disrupt its functioning. Some of these conditions include hepatitis which is inflammation of the liver, cancer, cirrhosis which is permanent scarring, liver failure, and gallstones, just to name a few. This dysfunction can be due to genetics, viruses, alcohol use, and obesity. Signs that the liver is poorly functioning include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), dark urine, chronic fatigue, easily bruising, abdominal pain, itchy skin, and swelling of the legs and ankles. Factors that can put one at increased risk for these symptoms includes unprotected sex, diabetes, obesity, heavy alcohol use, drugs injected by needles, and tattoos or piercings. It is important to find the cause and extent of liver damage upon any of these signs. Alcohol use inflames the liver and excessive drinking leads to scarring. Treatment is determined by these results, but always starts with lifestyle modifications including stopping the use of alcohol and losing weight.
There are plenty of self-care approaches that can improve liver health. This starts with detoxifying the liver. One of the main jobs of the liver is to rid the body of toxins, so it is important to not have alcohol, smoke, or excessive amounts of sugar including sucrose and fructose. Milk thistle is associated with improving liver health. This herbal remedy can help reduce inflammation. Green tea and vitamin E are also beneficial. Curcumin can also help protect the liver. It is easy to take advantage of what our body can do, especially when we don’t see these functions happen. Don’t take for granted what your liver can do and is mean to do. As it works in silence, this organ is critical for our health. Don’t toxify the detoxing organ in your body.