Three guesses to what’s the largest internal organ in your body and has more than 500 functions? (don’t look at the title) Yep, that’s right: the liver! Many people wouldn’t be able to tell you why the liver is important off the top of their heads. This is because it has so many functions that it’s not known for any one thing. Some of the awesome functions your liver is carrying out right now include (but is not limited to):
- Making all types of blood cells to carry out various activities throughout your body. Red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and white blood cells to fight infection.
- Metabolizing the cholesterol in your body
- Helping to digest and store sugar for use as energy
- Ridding your blood of nasty toxins before they can run amuck all over your body
- Producing a new batch of bile to help you digest all those healthy fats you’ve been eating lately
- Manufacturing nifty enzymes and proteins that will go out and be apart of most of the chemical reactions in your body. One example is blood clotting.
In the video below, WellnessFX Medical Director Doctor Murdoc Khaleghi walks us through the many indicators of liver health and why we test them.
- AST/ALT – If the liver is irritated, upset, or inflamed, these enzymes are released into the blood.
- Alkaline phophotase – This enzyme is present in the liver ducts (which transport bile). Blood levels will rise if there are certain problems with the liver and this transport system. It is also present in bone cells and high levels can be an indicator of poor bone health.
- Bilirubin – This is by-product of the activity of red blood cells. The liver is responsible for clearing the blood of this substance by excreting it in bile. High levels of bilirubin cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the white of the eyes), which could mean either a problem in the rate of bilirubin produced or the rate in which it is metabolized.
- Globulin – A lot of antibodies are globulin and it is also responsible for carrying essential metals through the bloodstream to help fight infections. It’s also important to compare the albumin and globulin levels, as there is a range of ratios that is considered healthy.
- Total Protein - Proteins carry nutrients throughout the body. The total protein tests for the total levels of albumin and globulin and can be an overall indicator of liver health.
Because our livers do so much good for us, there are a lot of ways things can go bad. Knowing the data around your personal indicators for these various problems can help you avoid serious complications down the line.