Health

Love Your Liver

Med school has definitely increased my understanding and love for this amazing organ!  On average your liver weighs approximately 3.5 pounds.  It is the largest solid organ in your body and the size of a football by the time we enter adulthood.  Now that we have taken a minute to think about a football in our abdominal area, let’s get into why I absolutely love this organ.  It supports nearly all the other organs in our body and is home to thousands of biochemical and physiological reactions.

  • Produces clotting factors along with vitamin K.  Clotting factors are proteins that control the bleeding in your body
  • Removes old and/or damaged red blood cells from circulation.  The red blood cells are then subsequently broken down in the liver
  • The liver plays a role in fat metabolism, it can either make fats and store them or break them down when the body needs energy
  • The liver makes cholesterol.  Cholesterol is the starting molecule in the synthesis of five classes of hormones, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone and cortisol
  • The liver along with the gallbladder produce a substance called bile, which helps with fat digestion ad absorption
  • The liver plays a role in blood sugar levels.  Surprising, because most people think of insulin and blood sugar, but excess glucose is converted to glycogen.  Glycogen is stored in the liver and  can be broken down to glucose and released into the blood stream when the body needs it
  • The liver stores many of our fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) along with other minerals the body needs
  • The liver removes toxic substances from the body.  For example, the urea cycle takes ammonia (a toxic substance) and converts it into a molecule that is safer to be excreted through our urine
  • The liver is the primary location of a family of enzymes called Cytochrome P450 (CYP450). These enzymes play an integral role in drug metabolism as well as synthesis of various molecules found throughout the body.  Nearly all medications and alcohol we consume our broken down by this family of enzymes
  • The liver produces albumin, the main transport molecule in the body. Albumin binds toxins in the body and most importantly maintains fluid and electrolyte balance
  • The liver is involved in protein metabolism, it can convert proteins into amino acids which can then be converted into carbohydrates or fats for the body to use for energy

As you can see the liver does a lot.  There are some foods that are especially good at supporting and protecting the liver, these include:

  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc.)
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Artichokes
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Dandelion Leaves

And, because I love botanical medicine, there are also several herbs that are good for liver support:

  • Milk Thistle
  • Burdock Root
  • Dandelion root and leaf
  • Tumeric
  • Yellow Dock Root

Hopefully this post has made you love your liver just a little bit more.

Best in Health,
Khadija

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