What Is Your Liver For?
When you think about essential organs for your health, your heart is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Perhaps you think about your stomach or your lungs. An equally important organ is your liver. How much do you know about its function? This article can show you why it matters for your health and how to take good care of it.
What Is the Liver?
Your liver is a large internal organ normally located on the right side of your abdomen, underneath your ribs. It weighs a lot, approximately three pounds in adults. In fact, your liver is the biggest organ in your body.
Besides being an organ, the liver is also a gland. That means that it’s responsible for producing some natural chemicals that your body uses for various processes.
What Does the Liver Do?
Generally speaking, the liver acts like a large filter for your blood. Interestingly, it has the texture of a heavy sponge, which is ideal for filtering. This gland also creates many hormones and proteins for other parts of the body.
How Can You Support Your Liver?
Like the majority of your organs, your liver is essential for staying alive and healthy. Learning more about it can help you take care of it.
One way to support the liver is by getting plenty of nutrients that it uses for everyday processes. You can eat foods that are rich in antioxidants, a type of vitamin that can help to maintain cell health. Some foods that Cleveland Clinic recommends for overall liver support include:
- Olive oil
- Lean proteins (chicken breast, fish, etc.)
- Green tea
- Leafy green vegetables
These foods have many natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support your body in general. For example, greens are a good source of B vitamins; several B vitamins are involved with liver function.
The body can do a good job of caring for the liver when it has nutrients from a balanced diet. Liver support supplements can help supply important antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes. If your family hasn’t been eating foods that are as healthy as you wish, supplements can fill a need. The idea is to make sure your liver has support nutrients available. Alongside good dietary choices, supplements can help maintain your body’s natural detoxification process, which also supports the liver.
Balanced Lifestyle Choices
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with consuming some alcohol in moderation. Excesses in alcohol can hurt your liver, however. This problem doesn’t necessarily have to do with drunkenness, either. The risk comes from too much liquor overall. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, even two ounces of hard alcohol a day for women, or four ounces for men, is enough to do long-term harm to the liver.
Fresh Produce and Home-Cooked Meals
Fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and many nuts aren’t just important for your liver because of their vitamins and antioxidants. They’re also smart food choices overall. These items tend to have little to no unhealthy fats. Greasy foods can make the liver’s job harder, so eating healthy foods is a good way to support it.
Preparing home-cooked meals takes longer than ordering fast food, but it can provide benefits for maintaining your family’s health. When you cook something yourself, you can control the amount of salt, added sugar and oil added. This often results in meals that are better for you compared to many restaurant menus.
Why Is a Healthy Liver Important?
All in all, the liver carries out hundreds of important processes:
- Producing bile for digesting foods
- Detoxifying the blood of negative substances
- Breaking down fats, carbs and proteins into components your body can use
- Storing vitamins and energy “packets”
- Eliminating damaged or old blood cells
It’s easy to take this dark-red organ for granted, but it helps your body in essential ways. The liver is like a factory, treatment plant and recycling center all in one.