The liver is so important that if it is not working right, other organs begin working harder in order to make up for what the liver is not doing. The other organs tire, resulting in many of the symptoms of illness. Many health professionals believe that an out-of-order liver is one component of many of the sicknesses we experience.
The liver is composed of about 100,000 liver lobules, which are cylindrical structures less than an inch long. A lobule is made of hepatic plates (hepatic simply means liver) that contain a number of liver cells.
Between these plates of liver cells are the hepatic sinusoids, curvy "passageways" that allow blood to flow around the liver cells. Between the sinusoids and hepatic plates are special cells called the Kupffer cells that can digest bacteria and other foreign matter found in the blood. When blood flows between the hepatic plates, it is cleansed of harmful and unnecessary matter.
The liver also stores vitamins and iron. The liver stores enough vitamin A to prevent a vitamin A deficiency for as long as 10 months, enough vitamin D to prevent a deficiency for 3 to 4 months, and enough vitamin B-2 to prevent a deficiency for a year or even several years. Iron is stored in the liver in the form of ferritin. When your body needs iron, ferritin releases the iron stored in the liver.
On its trip throughout our body, our blood picks up a lot of excess, and at times harmful, baggage. This baggage includes bacteria, drugs, and hormones, as well as part of the up-to-15 pounds of chemicals that Americans inflict on themselves every year. These chemicals include the many artificial additives used to preserve foods and "improve" their appearance. Additives such as BHT, BHA, sodium nitrate, and MSG come to mind, as well as dyes and artificial sweeteners. The liver removes this unnecessary and at times harmful baggage from our bodies. If the liver is not functioning and overloaded with these additives, we might experience indigestion, gas, and abdominal pain.
About 45% of the calories in an average American diet come from carbohydrates. Examples of carbohydrates include bread, pastas, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. It is thus extremely important that our bodies can turn these foods into energy. One way the liver helps us with carbohydrate energy is by keeping the correct amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. When we eat carbohydrates, our blood glucose level rises considerably. Our cells use some of the glucose for immediate energy, and the liver changes the extra glucose into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles. The liver changes this "surplus energy" back into glucose when our body recognizes that our blood sugar is low. The liver also turns fats and proteins into carbohydrates. When our blood sugar is low, fats and proteins can be changed into carbohydrates and then into glucose to give us the blood sugar and energy that we need.
Another 40 to 45% of our diet is fat. The liver changes this fat into energy by splitting the fats into their two component parts, glycerol and fatty acids. The liver also manufactures fats from excess carbohydrates. When we consume too many carbohydrates to use for energy or to store as glycogen, the liver can transform them to fats. This means not letting excess carbohydrates go to waste. Indeed, the average person has close to 150 times as much energy stored as fat as carbohydrates.
The liver also plays an important role in changing protein into energy. Unfortunately, when the liver does this, one of the results is the formation of large amounts of ammonia, a deadly by-product that must be removed from the body. To remove this poison, the liver forms urea, a fluid that transports the ammonia out of the body via the urinary tract. The liver also creates about 90% of the plasma proteins in our blood. Some of the components of these proteins play the largest role in maintaining our immune system.
You can see why it is important that your liver function at 100%. How can you help? The easiest, and perhaps the best way is to maintain a good diet. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Stay away from alcohol. Drink plenty of liquids, especially juices. Various herbs and whole food concentrates can also help your liver. Others recommend juice fasts once a month. Whatever you do, keep your liver tuned up; you will find yourself in better health and with more energy.
--Rays from the Rose Cross Magazine, March/April, 1996