The liver performs many functions in the body – it play a huge role in keeping us healthy. If it’s chemical in nature, then you can pretty much bet the liver is involved. It also plays a critical role in all metabolic processes. The liver is an essential organ that supports nearly every other organ in the body. Falling in love with your liver is the best way to burn belly fat. Let’s dive deeper into this important topic of how optimal liver function in the body keeps us healthy.
Location Of The Liver
The liver is located on the right side of the abdominal cavity. It is beneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach. Not counting your skin, the liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It weights approximately three pounds, and is rubbery in texture.
It is approximately nine inches in diameter, six inches in height, and four inches in depth. The gallbladder, which holds bile, is a hollow structure that sits under the liver. They work in conjunction with each other. Bile is made in the liver, and stored in the gallbladder. It is important for the digestive process as it breaks down fats from the diet into fatty acids.
These fatty acids can then be utilized by the body. Think of bile as a detergent that emulsifies fat. It is also needed for pancreatic enzymes to work properly. It is a shame that so many people have had their gallbladders removed as it is such an important organ.
“What doesn’t the liver do?” would be an appropriate question. Let’s start by discussing what it does do. The Chinese call the liver the Grandfather Organ as it is responsible for up to 500 functions in the body. It is part of the digestive system, and some of its roles include detoxification of chemicals, protein synthesis, secretion of bile, and the break down of old or damaged cells.
The liver plays a central role in the metabolism of fats and protein, and is a storage site for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K, and the B vitamins B12 and folate. On top of all that, it also metabolizes drugs, balances blood sugar and hormones, and my personal favorite, it burns fat!
When blood sugar levels drop, this important organ stores and breaks down glycogen, a labile from of glucose, into the blood, to stabilize blood sugar. The liver, along with the gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, and intestines is critical for the digestion, absorption, and processing of food.
Interestingly, decreased liver function directly impacts emotional health. Depression, despair, anxiety, and anger can all be the result of a toxic liver. Below I will delve further into a couple of these functions.
How The Liver Balances Blood Sugar
We all know the importance of healthy blood-sugar levels. Our livers work hard to keep circulating levels of glucose steady and constant. Liver glycogen stores are replenished, after meals, when insulin levels are high, and glucagon is low. Glycogen, or stored glucose, can then be used as needed.
One such time is during the night when no calories are coming in. Eating high-starch root vegetables, whole grains, or fruit at dinner helps to build glycogen stores. This results in sustained sleep as healthy blood-sugar levels are maintained. Adequate glycogen stores also help with intense workouts where plenty of energy is required.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash all build glycogen. Your body will use the starch it needs, and the rest will be stored as a back-up fuel source in the liver. Just another reason to eat healthy carbs. Go cut up some sweet potatoes fries, and bake on the top rack of your oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. You’ll be happy you did!
The Best Way To Burn Belly Fat
Another role the liver plays is fat metabolism. Blood sugar, as mentioned above, plays a role in fat burning, as does the production of bile. Bile breaks down fat which is essential for energy production and cell growth. Fat is an important macronutrient. It is essential for cell-membrane integrity, hormone production, brain function, Vitamin D synthesis, and digestion.
Increased energy and optimal digestion both foster better exercise habits. The liver acts as a filter to remove toxins, such as, medications, chemicals, drugs, and alcohol – all inflammatory in nature, and associated with obesity.
If this weren’t enough for this multitasker, the liver even balances hormones. We’ve all heard of estrogen dominance. This occurs due to inflammatory diets, environmental toxins (pesticides and plastics are estrogenic) and, of course, stress. The imbalanced ratio of estrogen to progesterone can be a culprit in thyroid dysfunction, impaired memory, and decreased mood.
Toxic estrogens are metabolized and expelled from the body when the liver is healthy. It is no wonder that female cancers are on the rise with our toxic food supply and environment. Optimizing liver function can alleviate many conditions, including, autoimmunity, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, cancer, and, yes, obesity.
The Ultimate Filter
This fascinating organ’s main job is to filter blood coming from the digestive tract – kind of like an inspector. The filtered, nutrient-dense blood is then passed to the rest of the body. An overworked liver is the result of thousands of chemicals being added to the food supply and drinking water.
Add to that genetically modified foods, animals raised and slaughtered in factory farms, pesticides, plastics, dyes, and flavorings, and it’s no wonder that most people’s liver are overtaxed.
Considering that this organ has an enormous amount of blood flowing through it at any given minute, it would make sense for all of us to pay more attention to liver health. At any given time, the liver holds about 10 percent of the body’s total blood volume. Approximately 1.4 liters of blood is filtered through the liver every minute. More than any other organ, the liver has the greatest capacity for regeneration.
That’s all for now. I hope I have encouraged you to learn more about this magical organ we call the liver. Did you know the liver was responsible for so many functions in the body? Let me know in the comments:)
(2) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The liver
(3) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Physiology, Liver
(4) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Structural and functional aspects of the liver and liver sinusoidal cells in relation to colon carcinoma metastasis
(5) US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Basic liver immunology
(6) Science Daily: How liver responds so quickly to food
(7) Scientific American: Your Liver May Be “Eating” Your Brain
(8) BMG Journals – Journal of Investigative Medicine: Influence of dietary macronutrients on liver fat accumulation and metabolism
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice. Please be diligent and always do your own research in regard to any material I present on this site. I claim no responsibility for any distress, whether it be physical or emotional, that may occur as a result of the information you obtain from my blog.