What Does The Liver Do And What Integral Role Does It Play In Our Overall Health
The liver is one of the most important, heaviest and largest organs in the body. Located in the upper right section of the abdominal cavity, it plays many roles that are vital to health longevity and life. It holds about one pint or 13% of the body's total blood supply and contains both oxygenated and nutrient rich blood. The liver has over 500 vital functions including helping with chemical and waste regulation, assistance in fat management and transport, regulation of glucose storage and utilization for energy, the production of protein and strengthening the immune system. This organ often goes unnoticed as a key factor in health longevity and vitality. Maintaining a healthy liver will make a noticeable difference in the way your body feels, looks and carries out in the long run.
One of the major functions of the liver is glucose metabolism, which plays a vital role in the production of energy. The liver is responsible for storing, metabolizing, and releasing glucose. The liver will take excess glucose being consumed and store it in fat cells to be used for energy when the body undergoes a fasted state, which is vital for survival. The liver activates on certain pathways in the body that will take glucose out of where it is being stored and utilize it in order to maintain the bodies ability to carry out its functions. The liver is essentially what keeps us going. Even if someone has not eaten for hours and glucose is no longer available or the glycogen stores have been used up, the liver has the ability to recognize this problem and activate enzymes that can synthesis glucose for energy from other areas of the body. The ability for the liver to do this is of monumental importance!
Insulin Release and Control
Because the liver is responsible for glucose metabolism and storing and releasing glucose for energy, it is also responsible for releasing insulin to manage the bodies glucose levels. In a fed state, the liver has the ability to shift from releasing glucose for energy, to releasing insulin, which protects the body from going into a hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) state. This is very important as elevated or lowered glucose levels can be detrimental, but it is also what regulates the bodies overall composition in response to food. Elevated insulin levels leads to fat storage and many other health complications such as diabetes, so the liver is essentially protecting the body and keeping it in homeostasis.
Another major benefit of the liver, that is linked to glucose metabolism, is its ability to process nutrients from the foods we eat. After the digestive system breaks down consumed food, the nutrients enter the blood stream and travel straight to the liver. The liver is then responsible for processing these nutrients in different ways and allowing the body to utilize them as needed. As mentioned, one of these ways is in the form of glucose that the body can use for quick energy, but this also includes all other important nutrients that the body needs in order to carry out vital internal functions.
Another key role that the liver plays in the body that often goes unnoticed is protein synthesis and protein metabolism. As discussed in previous articles, proteins are the building blocks to life. They carry out many essential functions that go beyond building muscle, including tissue growth, energy production, and nutrient storage. Proteins are composed of amino acids, which is what the liver assists in. This organ is responsible for the extraction and transportation of amino acids in order to build protein molecules. This also means that the liver assists in building non-essential amino acids, which are what we need in order to survive.
Lastly, the liver is vital for immune function. This organ is constantly being exposed to bacteria, toxins and food antigens, because all food that one consumes at some point is processed through the liver through the blood. In order to prevent the body from being exposed to these harmful substances, the liver has an extremely strong innate immune system that protects other organs. The liver produces hepatocytes, which are what produce 80-90% of the immune proteins in the body. This organ can not only protect the body but also filtrates the toxins or any other harmful agent in the blood before pushing it out to the rest of the body.
What Are Some Of The Risks Associated With A Liver That Does Not Function Well?
When the liver is functioning less efficiently, it poses a few risk factors. The first is of glucose control. In an over-fed state, the liver begins to produce insulin less efficiently, which compromises the body's glucose level by not being able to regulate it. By maintaining a healthy liver, it is more likely to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism and insulin response, which is vital for body composition and overall health. Beyond glucose metabolism, a damaged or less efficient liver is less likely to be able to remove toxins from the blood. Not only does this expose our body to harmful substances, but the toxins will begin to accumulate in our blood and cause problems. Furthermore, a damaged liver cannot process nutrients from the food we eat. This is detrimental to our health as not only do nutrients carry our bodies ability to live, but they are the main contributor to health longevity and optimal internal living conditions.
Key Supplements For Optimal Liver Function
Because of the importance of this organ, it is important to not only ensure you are taking proper care so that it does not fail or become damaged, but to ensure that it is functioning at full efficacy. Some supplements that aid in optimal liver function include the following:
- NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) - A semi essential amino acid that aids in your body's detoxification process by assisting your liver to prevent side effects of environmental toxins. It has been proven to improve liver function.
- Milk Thistle - A herbal supplement that is extremely popular for liver problems, as it supports a healthy liver function and encourages healthy cholesterol synthesis by the liver, by aiding in keeping toxic substances from binding to liver cells.
- Dandelion Root - A herd used to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, by acting as a natural diuretic and ridding the body of excess fluid.
At FitStrong Supplements, we offer a product called "Shield", which is comprised of all of the above listed ingredients in order to encourage liver health and overall function. It also contains Turmeric Root, Saw Palmetto, and Alpha Lipoic Acid, which are anti-inflammatory detoxification agents. The combination of these supplements together not only act as a protection and aid towards a healthier liver, but they help to strengthen immunity and the body's natural detoxification. This leads to overall better digestion, weight management, stress management and wellbeing.
By focusing on the health and longevity of our body, we must focus on what doesn’t necessarily meet the eye. This includes our internal organs as they are what fuel our entire body and maintain our every day functions necessary for survival. The liver, one of these vital organs, helps our body's primal energy needs by taking what we eat, and metabolizing it in order to maintain glucose stores that are later released for this energy. The liver is what also keeps our bodies glucose levels regulated which is essential to life, but also for our every day goals such as weight management. The liver is what metabolizes all micronutrient content from our food, and is the main catalyst in amino acid and protein production. Lastly, the liver is what fuels our immune system, which is our bodies protection against external pathogens that would otherwise make us ill. This amazing organ is not only something to be grateful for, but something to treat as a piece in the overall puzzle of leading an optimally healthy life.