Meet Bernard's LIVER!
The liver is really an unsung hero compared to other body parts. There are countless songs about the heart, the body, even blood! - but if there was ever a deserving candidate for a best-selling country western song, it would be the liver. I’d call it: “Wouldn’t be here without ya.” Someone call Tim McGraw.
How This Thing Works
The liver works overtime and ALL the time performing over 500 functions. When you’re eating, it’s working. When you’re sleeping, it’s working. When you’re drinking, it’s screaming at you because now it has even more work to do.
Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about this little hero. “The liver has a wide range of functions, including detoxification of various metabolites, protein synthesis, and the production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. It also plays a role in metabolism, regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells and hormone production." What a resume!
Simply put, the liver is like a factory. It processes energy, stores glucose - along with vitamins and minerals for your body to use later - and rids the body of toxins. The liver also cleans your blood and helps create blood clots when you cut yourself.
Our liver is a master filter, processing everything that comes in contact with our body - inside and out. It’s basically the Wonder Woman of body parts. Here are some things you might have missed in anatomy class:
The liver is our largest organ, with an adult liver close to the size of a football. It weighs about 3lbs. Pick up a toaster or a small cat - that's what your liver weighs.
At any one time, the liver contains about 10% of the blood in your body and it pumps about 1.4 litres through per minute.
The liver sits on the right side of your abdominal and is protected by the ribcage.
Your liver can regenerate itself! With only 25% still healthy, it can grow into a full liver again! Whaaaaaa????
Our liver breaks down hormones - estrogen and testosterone - and converts them into bile. Gross? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely. If you want to digest, that is.
Since this little guy works overtime, here are some tips to keep things in tip top shape. If your liver could talk, she’d say: “Help me, help you.”
Hold the alcohol when possible. Alcohol damages liver cells and after repeated damage, it could be deadly.
Exercise and eat healthy. The liver plays a large role in metabolizing so don't make it work overtime.
Be aware of the medications you take. Some might have negative side effects on your liver so do your research. For example, too much Tylenol could be harmful.
Prevent hepatitis by getting recommended shots, especially if you're going out of the country. Practice safe sex and never share anything that could pass blood or fluid like razors, needles, and tooth brushes. If you think you've come in contact with something risky, call your doctor to schedule a blood test.
Stay tuned for more of Bernard's Body series. Next month we'll learn new facts about his interests, then explore the COLON!
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Sources and Links
Women and Children's Health Network