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We all have a number of “vital” organs, i.e. components of the body that are essential in allowing us to live.  The liver is one of these vital organs.  Located in the abdomen just below the right rib cage, the liver’s six most important functions are:

  • Bile production and excretion.
  • Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs.
  • Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.
  • Enzyme activation.
  • Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals
  • Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors.

How we monitor liver “health” is by testing for liver enzymes (GGT, SGOT, SGPT) in the blood stream.  When these levels are above normal, this usually means there is something disrupting/killing liver cells.  If liver enzymes are elevated, it is important to find the source(s) of the damage.  The first question is whether the person is drinking excessive alcohol as this is one of the more common causes of liver inflammation/damage.  Medications such as statins that treat high cholesterol, Tylenol and methotrexate can damage the liver.

Obesity is the cause of a fairly silent liver disease called “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” (NAFLD).  The chronic liver inflammation caused by NAFLD may lead to scarring of the liver and eventually cirrhosis.  The functional capacity of the liver becomes less and less effective as cirrhosis sets in and this may lead to serious disease and even death.

When was the last time you had a check up including liver enzyme testing?  If you are have not been to your doctor in over a year please make that appointment.

I refer to the liver as an “underrated” organ.  I believe the heart, brain and kidneys receive lots more attention as to their importance.  The liver is vitally important to sustain a healthy/long life and we need to take care of our livers.  The best way?  Keep alcohol to a minimum and stay steadfast in your weight control efforts.

Summary:  Obesity may cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and this can be life-threatening.  Lowering weight can reverse this process.