It's time for a refresher on one of your body's most vital organs: your liver. Do you really know what it does?
In short, your liver is a detoxifying powerhouse, keeping the entire body free of harmful substances that can result in illness, which makes it more than worth looking after!
Nestled inside your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen is your liver. Weighing approximately three pounds, this amazing organ is separated into right and left lobes. Your liver's main job is to clean, or filter your blood as it flows through the digestive tract and onto the rest of your body's systems. This blood may contain toxins or heavy metals that you don't want traveling throughout your body and collecting. These unwanted materials are released from the liver, making their way through the intestines and out of the body as excrement.
The other functions of the liver include producing bile to break down the food you consume, extracting the vital nutrients and expelling what your body doesn't need, and converting that food into energy for the entire body to use. The liver works with the gallbladder, intestines and pancreas to complete its work to keep you healthy.
The liver is susceptible to diseases such as liver cancer and hepatitis (A, B and C). Consuming too many hazardous substances, like alcohol or drugs as well as prescription medications (when not taken properly or for too long) can damage the liver as well, causing the formation of scar tissue. This condition is known as cirrhosis. When liver disease is present, the blood isn't being properly filtered and those unhealthy or harmful substances remain in the blood, making their way through the body. This can result in yellowing of the skin or eyes, known as jaundice.
How to Support Liver Health
Through blood tests and scans your doctor can take a look at the health of your liver and how well it's functioning. If your liver is putting in overtime, it's time to make some changes. If you're interested in taking a holistic approach, a supplement like milk thistle is a great choice. Milk thistle helps remove built up toxins within the body that can impede proper liver function. The active compound within milk thistle responsible for this action is silymarin. Other supplements to consider that aid in liver function include dandelion root, turmeric (a powerful anti-inflammatory) and artichoke leaf.
Speak to your doctor before adding any supplement to your routine, especially if you're being treated for a liver condition, any other medical condition or are pregnant or breastfeeding. They can help you determine the best combination of treatments and make sure the supplements don't interact with any medications you may be taking.
Here are some additional suggestions from the Mayo Clinic to follow to keep a healthy liver healthy and improve the condition of your liver if needed:
Limit consumption of alcohol.
Use medication properly.
Don't use illicit intravenous drugs.
Get vaccinated for hepatitis.
Avoid coming in contact with someone else's blood or body fluids.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Exercise regularly, as obesity can lead to fatty liver disease.
Take care of your liver and you'll feel more energized and maintain your overall health. Check out our entire selection of supplements to support liver health at eVitamins!