Put your hand at the base of your ribs, on the front of your body and to the right. This is where the second-largest organ in your body sits, and does its work. Weighing in at around three pounds, your liver is only outsized by your skin and is nearly as important.
Your liver has two sections, or "lobes", and holds a little more than half a quart of blood at once inside it. All the blood in your body eventually will pass through your liver, so injuries to it are sometimes life-threatening.
Your liver works as a filter to strain toxic chemicals out of your blood. Alcohol, drugs, and caffeine are removed from the blood through a series of chemical reactions performed by your liver cells, and then transformed into bile. This cleans out the bloodstream; it is also the reason that many alcoholics have liver failure and similar problems.
Your liver makes enough bile to digest everything you eat; this substance breaks down fats in your food and makes them into nutrients in your digestive system. Your liver makes the bile, then sends it to the gallbladder, where it stays in reserve until you eat something.
Your liver also stores excess energy in the form of glycogen, which it makes out of the glucose in your food. It serves as a storage organ not only for this sugar, but also for iron supplies that it removes from the red blood cells that pass through it. These reserves are important for your liver's function.
While your liver is cleaning out your blood, it also removes any ammonia that's built up there and changes it to urea. Urea is the main ingredient in urine. The liver sends this waste product to the kidneys to be flushed away from your bloodstream.
Your liver also makes some of the protein in your blood plasma, and a substance which helps transport cholesterol to where it's needed in your body. When your blood sugar drops, it will send out some of its stored energy to keep your system running. Your brain relies on the sugars provided by the liver when you haven't eaten for a while. Your liver stores many other vitamins for later, and will release them when your body runs out.
People suffering from liver failure or diseases of the liver often have jaundice, which ia a yellow color in the skin and eyes. This coloring is caused by toxins and urea building up in the bloodstream.
Liver transplants are possible, since your liver can regenerate and heal itself. Hepatitis and drug overdoses, along with alcoholism, can cause liver failure or damage, and physical damage to your liver can be immediately life-threatening.
Your liver may only be the second largest organ you've got, but it has a very important roel in regulating your metabolism and cleaning up your blood. Taking care of your liver is vital for good health!