The liver is the largest organ in the human body and has many roles to perform to ensure a healthy body. It plays a crucial role in ensuring the body's metabolism. Three of its main functions are, it makes bile which helps us digest food and eradicate toxins and poisons, it synthesises useful molecules for the body which allows it to regulate the level of energy in the body and it helps the body fight infections. If there is disease or damage to the liver, often the symptoms will include fatigue and the critical nature of the role it plays means liver damage can lead to death. However, the liver, unlike other human organs, can repair and regenerate if damaged.
Bile is used by the body to help absorb food and get rid of poisons. Bile is passed through the bile duct and works in the intestine to assist in the absorbsion of fats. If this is not working properly and too little bile is being produced, then you may find that suffer from problems with your toilet habits, such as diarrhea. The bile also converts toxins into substances the body can handle and excrete. One of the substances produced, bilirubin which is made from red blood cells, is what gives stools their brown colour.
The liver synthesises a number of molecules which are useful for the body. Some of the key molecules are:
albumin, which helps to ensure blood remains within the blood vessels
coagulants, which helps blood to clot and so protects us from bleeding profusely when we cut ourselves
glycogen, which is a converted from glucose. This helps regulate the glucose (energy) levels in the body, and when low glucose levels occur, glycogen can be converted back
In addition the liver produces immune factors which are used by the body to help resist infection and also removes bacteria from the blood stream.
It is perhaps obvious then that the liver plays a key role in keeping the body healthy and without it, if it is damaged for instance, there can be serious consequences for the patient.