The liver is the heaviest organ in your body, weighing in at 3½ pounds. It is the second largest organ next to your skin. Reddish brown when healthy, it is located in the upper right hand side of your abdomen under the cover and protection of your lower ribs.
The liver is divided into two lobes (left and right) by a fold of peritoneum called the falciform ligament. The upper surface of the liver is in contact with the diaphragm. The lower surface is usually attached to the gallbladder, and in contact with the kidney, the stomach, the esophagus and parts of the duodenum (the upper small intestine) and the large intestine.
The liver performs many metabolic functions:
Critical in the control of blood sugar levels: The liver receives glucose derived from food and converts it to a storage molecule called glycogen. Glycogen is then converted back into glucose as needed to maintain blood sugar levels.
Vitamin A, iron & bile: Vitamin A, important for the maintenance of the surface-lining tissues of the body, is made and stored in the liver. Iron used in the production of hemoglobin is also stored here. Bile is made in the liver and passed on to the gallbladder for storage. Bile is critical for the digestion of fats
Other blood-related functions: The liver produces albumin. This important plasma protein helps to control fluid movement between the inside of blood vessels and the spaces between the cells throughout the body. It also manufactures substances important in the control of blood clotting.
Fat burner: The liver works with the gallbladder to assist in the excretion of fatty substances, including stored body fat.
Detoxification: The most critical function performed by the liver is the detoxification of your blood. It destroys toxic substances ingested along with food and water, including bacteria entering the body via the gut. These substances are then excreted safely from your body, removed forever.
In part two of the liver story, we will explore how the choices we make in our lives affect the ability of the liver to do its job.