The human liver is a fascinating organ. I’m sure you know your liver metabolizes alcohol. You are also probably aware of serious liver diseases such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. You may know that your liver helps you digest oily foods.

Certainly if you’ve experienced a dull ache on the right side of your abdomen, behind your lower ribs after a rich meal, then you have felt your liver.

There are plenty of interesting and fun facts about your liver you probably aren’t aware of. Learning about the functions of the liver may motivate you to take better care of this critically important organ. It is really not possible to achieve good health if your liver is suffering. One of the most common consequences of a poorly functioning liver is fatigue. This makes sense because the liver is the largest internal organ and the most metabolically active one. Your liver performs more than 500 functions each day. Don’t you think it deserves more credit?

If you want a long and healthy life you really must love your liver. Here are some fascinating facts about this organ.

Your liver helps control your blood sugar

Do you notice an energy slump at 3pm in the afternoon? Do you ever feel shaky if you haven’t eaten for several hours? If you commonly experience hypoglycaemia or uncontrollable cravings for sugar, it’s time to look after your liver. A healthy liver converts excess glucose from your diet into glycogen, and stores it for future use in between meals. People with a fatty liver or an inflamed liver are not able to store glycogen as well. This means they are prone to experiencing a sudden crash in blood sugar, which can make you feel very unwell and make sticking to a healthy diet virtually impossible.

The solution is to improve the health of your liver, but in the meantime there are ways to help these symptoms. Try to eat some protein and healthy fats at each meal, as these foods help to promote a more stable blood sugar, rather than wild swings in either direction. Good sources of protein include seafood, eggs, poultry, whey protein powder and red meat. Pastured (grass fed) animal protein is preferable. Chromium, magnesium, bitter melon and the herb Gymnema sylvestre all help stabilize blood sugar and reduce hypoglycaemia. They are found in Glicemic Balance capsules.

Your liver helps your body to fight infections

When it comes to fighting viral or bacterial infections, you probably think of your white blood cells and lymph glands. Your liver plays a vital role here. Your liver contains specialized immune cells called Kupffer cells. They are a type of immune cell called macrophages. Macrophages swallow up any foreign particles that shouldn’t be in your bloodstream; they behave very much like Pac Man. Kupffer cells engulf microorganisms, dead cells, immune complexes and chemicals. Enzymes inside the Kupffer cells kill the microorganisms and break them down so your liver can dispose of them.

If you are trying to fight off an infection, it is very important to try and improve your liver health. Your liver can easily become overwhelmed with infectious organisms and toxic particles. Selenium is one of the most critical minerals for helping you fight infections because it has anti-viral actions, plus it is required for glutathione production.

Your liver affects your thyroid hormones.

Everybody associates the thyroid gland with metabolism and weight. This is correct; your thyroid does determine the speed at which your metabolism operates. Deficiencies in thyroid hormones are a very common cause of weight gain. Your thyroid gland manufactures thyroid hormones, but your liver is where they are activated. T4 thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid gland but its conversion to the active form T3 occurs in other parts of the body, primarily the liver. We see a large number of patients with normal TSH and T4 thyroid blood test results, but low T3 or high reverse T3. Often doctors don’t even test those other hormones, so the patient is none the wiser. Improving the health of your liver is critical for healthy levels of thyroid hormones and a well functioning metabolism. See our book Your Thyroid Problem Solved for more information.

Your liver can affect your mood and emotions.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term liverish. In several different cultures the liver has been linked with the emotions of anger, irritability and hostility. Certainly a poorly functioning liver can give a person a short temper and irritable disposition. Women with an unhealthy liver are more likely to suffer with PMS. The few days leading up to menstruation are a difficult time for a woman’s liver. There is a dramatic drop in sex hormone levels, and it is the liver’s responsibility to clear those hormones from the bloodstream. During this time, a woman’s liver is also not able to break down alcohol as efficiently, therefore you’re likely to feel more unwell the morning after drinking. Many of our patients find that taking a liver tonic brings the unexpected benefit of an improved mood and outlook on life.

Your liver helps your blood to clot.

Your liver manufactures clotting proteins, which are vital for enabling your blood to clot when necessary. If your blood cannot clot properly, you are more prone to excessive bleeding and abnormal bleeding. This is sometimes a problem in people with liver conditions such as cirrhosis, hepatitis or alcohol-induced liver damage. Excessive bruising is often the first sign of a bleeding problem. Please consult with your doctor if you experience this symptom.

Your liver is a truly marvellous organ, responsible for keeping you well in so many ways. Unfortunately, modern living and subsequent exposure to chemicals, toxins, unhealthy food, alcohol and medication mean the average person’s liver is struggling. Please do your best to look after yours.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.