Functions of the liver

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of the liver to the healthy functioning of the human body. It is a remarkable organ. The liver acts as a processing plant, a battery, a filter, a warehouse and a distribution centre all in one.
The number and range of functions it carries out is staggering:

  • It transforms the food we eat into energy to build cells and tissues in our body
  • It detoxifies all the poisonous chemicals that enter our bodies such as alcohol, drugs and pollutants
  • It stores vitamins, fat, sugars and minerals and sends them around the body when they are needed
  • It produces a digestive juice called bile which breaks down fats so they can be absorbed by the body
  • It produces hormones that regulate sexual desire and function
  • It is engaged in so many activities that the energy it creates warms the blood passing through it which helps maintain the body’s temperature

The immune system, digestive tract, kidney, brain and cardiovascular system all depend on a healthy and well-functioning liver. This is why liver diseases such as hepatitis C can have such varied symptoms. Because a diseased liver can potentially affect all the body’s major systems and organs, it is very important to understand how it works and how to look after it.