09 Mar An Introduction to Your Liver
Most of us take our liver for granted. It’s silently working in the background just doing… well whatever the liver does! Have you really thought about it?
What is the liver?
Your liver is a vital internal organ – you cannot live without one! Interestingly, it is the only regenerating part of the human body. In fact, in liver transplants, the donor donates only 1/2 of their liver and each half regenerates in its respective body! The donor’s liver will be back to normal function in just 2-4 weeks and be its original size in about a year.
What is a liver’s job?
- Bile Production. Bile is important in the body to carry away waste and metabolize fats.
- Protein Production and Metabolism. There are specific proteins created in the liver to contribute to blood plasma, and distribute fats in the body. The liver also creates the amino acids that build proteins. The protein used in the body creates a poison called ammonia which the liver converts and excretes in the urine.
- Converting sugars. This balances sugars and stores excess as fat.
- Processing Iron. The liver stores and processes hemoglobin so the body can use its iron.
- Filtering. The liver filters poisons and drugs from the body.
- Regulating blood clotting.
- Cleaning the blood. The liver removes bacteria and bilirubin (caused by the body replacing red blood cells) from the blood.
- Read more here about the function of the liver
What happens if the liver is not working well?
If the liver isn’t functioning well, sugars are not regulated properly so you will feel sugar crashes easily. Your body will not be able to clear away waste efficiently so you may feel itchy, have swelling, dark urine, or feel fatigued and you may have nausea or vomiting. Your skin and eyes may appear yellowish, your abdomen may be swollen or painful. It is also possible that you will have no noticeable symptoms at all!
Is Liver Disease Alcohol-Related?
Most people immediately think of alcoholism when they think of liver disease and nearly 20% of liver transplants are related to alcoholic liver disease. Your liver can effectively filter 1 drink per hour, but after that, the liver cannot keep up and your liver is overworked and is being damaged. You can learn more about this at the liver foundation.
Other Types of Liver Disease?
Every type of liver disease progresses in the same way, the only difference being the root cause. The other most common types of liver disease are:
- Viral Hepatitis. The word hepatitis actually means inflammation of the liver. The type of hepatitis caused by a viral infection (Hep A, B, or C)
- Fatty Liver Disease. This essentially is just liver disease that happens for people who are not drinking too much. It is characterized by too much fat being stored in the liver cells, and it causes all the same devastating effects as any liver disease.
- Auto-Immune Liver Diseases. This category of liver disease is caused when the immune system turns on itself, causing liver inflammation and progressing to the further stages of the disease.
What about Me?
Everyone should lead a liver healthy life by avoiding binge drinking, eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, and keeping a healthy weight. It is important for all people to have regular checkups with their doctor. Routine bloodwork is the best determiner of healthy liver function and the most common red flag for liver disease. Often, by the time you have symptoms, your liver has been irreparably damaged.
If you have not had an appointment with your GP in over a year, it is the time!
Make an appointment today to check your liver health!
Sabe Wellness is accepting new patients for convenient, free digital appointments and they can send a requisition for your bloodwork!