For a part of the body that is so often overlooked, the liver is in fact one of the hardest working organs that's responsible for some 500 vital bodily functions. Next to the skin, it is the body's second largest organ at about 1.4kg when fully-grown. Reddish brown and shaped like a triangle, it is located in the abdomen, just below the right rib cage, and above the pancreas and the small intestine.
The liver acts like a customs officer. Everything you eat - good or bad -goes through it so that it can help break the food down. This busy organ plays three main roles: it helps digest food; it makes proteins and cleans your blood.
Taken for Granted
Unfortunately, many people forget about this amazing organ until problems arise.
This amazing organ is also the only one that can regenerate or rebuild itself. It is so hardworking that it will even continue to function when two-thirds of it is damaged by scarring, or cirrhosis. But by the time the liver sends problems signals, its condition is usually critical.
Watch out for These Problems
There are over 100 diseases that are associated to the liver, and these include disorders such as fatty liver, cirrhosis, hepatitis, alcohol related liver disease, haemochromatosis, autoimmune liver disorders, cancer and congenital or inherited diseases.
Modern lifestyles can also affect liver health. Irregular mealtimes, lack of sleep and stress can over-burden the liver. Over-consumption of fats, proteins and alcohol during festive seasons can also overwork the liver as it clears, stores and handles these extra nutrients.
Protect and Care for Your Liver
There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure optimal liver health. These include:
• Ensuring ample rest
• Drinking six to eight glasses of water daily
• Avoiding alcohol and any drugs that might damage the liver
• Having a well-balanced, nutritious diet
Eating right helps maintain your liver as well. There are certain foods that are involved mainly in the detoxification of the liver, and help the liver rid the body of harmful chemicals and substances. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are helpful liver foods. Fruits such as prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, grapefruit, apples and pears help as well.
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