LIVER HEALTHWilly William
World Hepatitis Day is on this 28th July with theme of ‘Riding new waves in liver diagnosis, staging & treatment’. As we all know, liver is the second largest organ in the body after skin and also one of the important organs in the body with significant functions. Some of liver’s functions are detoxification, bile production, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and filtering blood. Without proper nutrition and practicing unhealthy lifestyle could lead to liver diseases, to name few are Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFDL) and Hepatitis.
a. Facts of liver
Liver is one of the largest organs in human body weighing about 1.4 – 1.5kg. Liver located at the above and to the left of stomach and below the lungs. Liver also called as a gland because it secretes chemical. Liver is protected by ribs (MNT,2018). Liver is divided into two lobes which are right lobe and left lobe. Each lobe has different physiological structures. Between right and left lobe, there is falciform ligaments, a band tissue that holds them to the diaphragm.
Liver has two major sources of blood. First – hepatic artery carries oxygenated blood from the heart and second – portal vein brings in nutrients-rich blood from digestive system. Blood later removed from liver via hepatic vein.
b. Functions of liver
1. Detoxification of chemical
Liver helps to detoxifies harmful chemical that enter to blood, for instance overdose of chemical.
2. Bile production
Bile is needed for break down and absorb fat, cholesterol in small intestine.
3. Carbohydrates metabolism
Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen in the liver.
4. Supporting blood clotting
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. Bile help in Vitamin K absorption. Liver helps in producing coagulants factors.
5. Vitamin and mineral storage
Liver stores vitamin, A, D, E, K and B12. For mineral, liver stores ferritin and copper. Ferritin is used for making new blood.
6. Absorbing and metabolizing bilirubin
Bilirubin is the product from haemoglobin breakdown. Liver absorbs and metabolizes bilirubin and the excess bilirubin will be excreted thru faecal or urine.
c. Liver diseases
Most common liver diseases are:
1. Viral Hepatitis – Caused by viral infection. There are several types of Hepatitis which are Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E.
2.Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) – Caused by accumulation of fat. Excess fat leads to inflammation of the liver.
3.Cirrhosis – Scarring of liver tissue due to long term alcohol abusive or chronic hepatitis.
4. Gilbert’s Syndrome – Genetic disorder causing bilirubin cannot be broken down.
5. Liver Cancer – Mostly caused by Hepatitis or alcohol.
d. Liver and Nutrition