Liver smothered in onions might not be your first choice of a meal at dinnertime (more yucky than yummy?), even if that's the image that jumps to mind at the mention of the word 'liver.' So for the purpose of this discussion, delete that sight from your mental hard drive, and let's instead talk about the liver inside your body, that wonderful mass of machinery that performs so many life-enhancing functions yet gets relegated to second or third fiddle behind organs such as the heart and brain in anatomical conversation.
The liver inside our body weighs in at about three pounds in adult form as a massive, meaty, reddish-brown organ. It is about four or five times the size of your fist and resides in the upper part of the abdomen, tucked away under the right side of the rib cage, as described in hpblondon.com. For further details about the liver's physical traits, feel free to click on the links embedded in this article, but meanwhile let's cut to the chase in visiting and touting the many things that make your liver such a valuable part of your daily existence and a recipient of our everlasting TLC.
The liver might just be the ultimate multitasker, largely responsible for hundreds of chemical actions the body needs to survive, according to medicinenet.com. In short, it is amazing, even covering up for a multitude of sins when it comes to how we treat our bodies. Here's a short list of some of the wonderful things the liver does:
· Stores vitamins and chemicals crucial as building blocks for the body, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin A (for vision), vitamin D (calcium absorption), iron needed for the manufacture of red blood cells and vitamin K to help our blood clot properly;
- Filters the blood arriving from the digestive tract before passing it along to the rest of the body;
- Detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes ingested drugs;
- Secretes bile that goes to the intestines and helps in digestion;
- Stores energy in the form of a sugar called glycogen;
- If you accidentally consume a poison or something else harmful, your liver will recognize what has happened and step to the plate to attempt to break it down so it can be cleared out of your system to the best extent possible;
- Produces cholesterol and special proteins for transporting fats through the body;
- Produces certain proteins for blood plasma, etc., etc.
In a show of appreciation, the best thing we can do for our liver is to live by the Golden Rule and treat it with the same utmost care it brings us. Unfortunately, not everyone gets the message. Excess consumption of alcohol can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver, a condition characterized by irreversible scarring of the liver, according to medicinenet.com, often leading to liver failure. Cirrhosis is the most common cause of liver disease in North America. Note this, too: The most common type of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, almost always occurs after cirrhosis is present.
Other relatively common liver afflictions include gallstones/liver stones, liver failure and hepatitis, in which the liver gets inflamed, usually from viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C. Heavy drinking, drugs, allergic reactions and obesity are among the non-infectious causes of hepatitis as well.
There's no magic formula to doing your part to keep your liver healthy, but a great start is eating right. That should include plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables; moderate consumption of alcohol, if any at all; and staying active to include regular exercise.
Some health-conscious experts also recommend a periodic cleanse, or detox, of the body aimed primarily at the liver's benefit. There are numerous detox strategies out there, but do your research and homework, and always discuss with your physician before starting any of them. You can also backtrack to a blog posted on this website on July 15 for more information about cleanses and detoxes.
The Houston-based Global Healing Center has identified five reasons to do a liver cleanse: for weight loss, to eliminate liver stones, to detox your body, for an increase in energy, and to look and feel five years younger, although, granted, that latter benefit can be subjective.
Today's plea: stay aware of how you can protect your liver. Be nice to it, and in turn it will be nice to you, happily helping you, if needed, in dealing with that dinner of liver smothered in onions.