Liver is the largest internal organ in the human body. The half-moon shaped organ is also one of the heaviest, weighing about 1.5 kilogram or over 3 pounds. It is the largest gland that is associated with the digestive system in human beings and is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity. The liver has two lobes, each divided into eight segments. It has the capacity to regenerate. This means that if a portion of the liver is removed due to injury or during liver surgery, it is likely to grow back as new liver cells start to generate.
Functions of the liver
The liver is known to carry out over 500 different functions. The main function of this gland is to help in the detoxification of the body by filtering the toxins that are present in the blood. This means that the liver helps regulate chemical levels in the blood. The organ also helps in the digestion of fats and lipids. This is done by bile, a product secreted by the liver. Bile breaks down fats and helps in their absorption by the body. It further helps in metabolizing the drugs and chemicals consumed by us and converting them into a form that can be easily utilized.
Some of the most important functions of the liver are:
- Bile production-bile helps in breaking down and digesting lipids and fats in our food.
- The liver functions as the storehouse of carbohydrates. These are then broken down into glucose and absorbed by the blood whenever the body needs a dose of energy.
- Regulation of blood clotting by producing clotting factors.
- The liver also acts as a storehouse of micronutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and minerals like copper.
Symptoms of unhealthy liver
Symptoms of a poorly functioning kidney include fever, nausea, fatigue, jaundice, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, dry mouth and dark urine. One must seek medical attention if any of these symptoms persist for a long period of time.
What can I do to keep my liver healthy?
Given the multitude of functions that the liver performs, liver diseases can be quite harmful for the overall health and can be very debilitating as well. Liver diseases, if left untreated, can be fatal. Hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, hemochromatosis, and ascites are some of the major diseases of the liver.
The best way to keep the liver healthy is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This means by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol consumption. Here are some tips to maintain a healthy liver -
- Avoid alcohol intake. Over time, excess alcohol consumption leads to fatty liver and even cirrhosis.
- Eat a wholesome and nutritious meal which balances the various nutrients and micronutrients. Fad diets plans which encourage only high protein foods can be quite harmful to the liver.
- Ensure that your diet is high in fibre content. For this, include fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fibre helps the liver function at optimal levels. Grapes, radish, carrot, amla, turmeric, papaya, lemon, banana and green tea are beneficial for healthy liver.
- Avoid fried foods and foods high in sugar or salt content.
- Exercise daily and stay hydrated always. Drink lots of water as this helps the liver function better.