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Medicine & Health Education
The Stomach and the Liver
Lifestyle Modifications for a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit
Bala N. Aiyer, M.D.
1. Understanding the Liver - The Factory
The Creator & the Destroyer
The Structure and Function of the Liver!

1. The Body's largest organ :

The Liver, a wedge shaped organ is located under the rib cage on the right side of abdomen. The Liver, which weighs close to 3 pounds [1.4 Kilos] is the body's largest internal organ. It is an important organ that receives blood from two different sources. One from the heart supplying its oxygen and one from the intestines carrying the nutrition that we eat. Many of the substances carried in the blodd are modified as the blood passes through the liver.


2. The Body's Chemical Factory :

The liver performs many varied and complex functions. It cleans and purifies the blood supply, breaks down certain chemical substances in the blood, clears certain toxins [poisons] and also manufactures [synthesizes] sevral other necessary substances.

The liver's four most important tasks are:
1. Purification - changing harmful chemicals to harmless substances.
2. Sythesis - takes the simple building blocks of food to syntheize complex substances.
3. Storage - Sugars, fats and vitamins are stored until they are needed.
4. Transformation - the essential building blocks are changed to be used in other ways.

1. Purification :

Substances such as many medicines [ i.e., Acetaminophen or Tylemol or Crocin] and Alcohol are changed into an inactive form in the liver. Some substances are from outside the body [exogenous]and some are naturally occuring inside the body [endogenous]. In addition, some drugs may be activated, rather than inactivated, by the liver before they start working.

Whle inactivation of exogenous substances like Ethanol [alcohol] and Nicotine is good for the whole body, liver cells may be damaged in the process. The process of detoxification of ethanol, for example, may harm the liver, leading to cirrhosis or scarring and damage.

Some of the toxins broken down by the liver are manufactured by the body itself. For example, the body normally produces a large amount of ammonia in the intestine as food is being digested. The liver changes ammonia into urea, a substance that is removed by the kidney.


2. Synthesis :

The liver takes simple food units from the food products absorbed from the stomach and intestines such as sugars, amino acids and fatty acids into complex building blocks of the body like the human proteins, complex sugars and body fat. The liver manufactures most of the proteins found the the blood. One protein called albumin, combines with other substances and carries them to wherever they are needed in the body. Proteins necessary for the prevention of bleeding are also manufactured in the liver.


3. Storage :

Sugars, fats and vitamins are stored in the liver until they are needed. The liver changes the blood sugar [glucose] absorbed from food into a storage form [glycogen]. When the body need energy, the sugar is then released by the liver. In Diabetes, this process also gets affected. The liver also stores vitamins and minerals until they are needed by other parts of the body.


4. Transformation :

The liver uses enzymes to transform small food molecules [such as glucose, aminoacids and fatty acids] into other building blocks such as enzymes. An excess of such enzymes, for example, alanine aminotransferase [ALT] indicates liver damage in certain diseases. The liver also inactivates several hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, and regulate their activity in the blood stream. It also plays a major role in the building up and breaking down of cholesterol.

Under Construction
-- Liver is the Fatory and is essential to good health--
Essential Changes -- for a healthy Heart and General Health0