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What do 'liver' do specifically?

16 Feb 2023
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What do 'liver' do specifically?

1. Body Energy Management ‘Leader’

The liver serves as the energy management center in our body. In other words, the liver stores nutrients absorbed from the intestines or processes them into other necessary substances and distributes them to cells throughout the body. The liver also synthesizes substances needed by the body. In particular, it plays a role in making a protein called 'albumin'. This protein is an important protein that plays a role in transporting various ions or hormones from blood to tissues or regulating the osmotic pressure of our body. It also synthesizes cholesterol in the blood.

Cholesterol is often perceived as bad because of hyperlipidemia. However, it plays an important role in the synthesis of the cell membrane that maintains the shape of the cell. Likewise, the liver synthesizes substances such as albumin and blood clotting factors that are needed by the body. For this reason, cirrhosis patients with severely impaired liver function may bleed from the gums or nose or easily bruise. In addition, it functions to store various nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins that are absorbed through the intestine and delivered through the hepatic portal vein.

2. An Important Detoxifying ‘Worker’

The liver is an organ that breaks down toxins. It decomposes and metabolizes various drugs, alcohol, and other toxic substances that enter the body into a form that can be excreted. It works by excreting it through urine or bile, which is called detoxification. Most of the toxins that enter our body come through food. Food reaches the liver through digestion through the intestines, and at this time, if the amount of toxins is large, the liver is overloaded and its function is inevitably reduced. When the liver completes detoxification, it converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble ones and excretes them out of the body through urine and feces.

It also plays a role in detoxifying toxins contained in alcohol and drugs. Therefore, drinking too much alcohol can cause fatty liver, hepatitis, or cirrhosis. It is also important not to get too stressed out. Since active oxygen is a toxin, it must be detoxified in the liver. As the level increases, the liver has more work to do, so it becomes easily fatigued. In particular, in patients with liver cirrhosis, this detoxification effect is reduced, so the risk of drugs, alcohol, or toxic substances may increase.

3. Hormone decomposition and metabolism ‘top’

The liver plays a role in breaking down and metabolizing various hormones. In patients with liver cirrhosis, insulin is not broken down well and the liver's glycogen stores are insufficient, resulting in hypoglycemia due to fasting. Insulin plays a role in muscle, adipose tissue, and liver. Therefore, if insulin does not play its role in these two places, it can be seen that insulin does not work properly throughout the body. This is called insulin resistance. As a result, in patients with chronic liver disease, the metabolism of sex hormones is lowered, which can lead to hair loss in the armpits or pubic area, menstrual abnormalities in women, and testicular atrophy or gynecomastia in men.

4. ‘Sincerity’ helps digest fat by making bile

The liver produces bile, which is important for digesting fat, and excretes it through the bile duct into the small intestine. In order for fat to be broken down (digested) and changed into a form that can be absorbed, the help of bile secreted by the liver is most needed.

5. ‘All-around’ that boosts immunity and takes care of sterilization

Bacteria that are absorbed into the body through the mucous membrane of the large intestine are killed by Kupffer cells, which act as a phagocytic (function to eat bacteria), passing through the liver. can go out However, in patients with liver cirrhosis, this function is reduced, making them susceptible to infection with various bacteria, and a representative example is Vibrio sepsis caused by eating uncooked fish and shellfish in summer.

6. ‘Effort wave’ for bile production and excretion

The liver produces 500 to 1,000 mL of bile per day. Bile is stored in the gallbladder, which is located just below the liver, and is secreted along with pancreatic juice when food passes through the small intestine. Bile contains enzymes that help break down and absorb fat and activate bowel movement. However, it also contains various waste products that are unnecessary for our body. Among them, bilirubin, which is released when red blood cells are destroyed, is a yellow pigment that makes the color of feces yellow. Occasionally, when there is an abnormality in the liver due to a disease such as hepatitis, bilirubin builds up in the body and causes jaundice, a yellowing of the eyes and skin.

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