Human liver is a very vital organ. It is so important that if it stops functioning even for a single day, a person will simply die. Unfortunately, it is one of the least thought about organs. So, it is time that we change our view and start giving it the much deserved attention. So, let us today learn 25 interesting facts about human liver. Most of us already know these facts but let us consider it a refresher course.
1. Humans are not the only living beings to have a liver. Any living creature with a spinal column or a backbone has a liver. In short every vertebrate in this world has a liver.
2. Artificial liver replacement in humans or any other vertebrate is not yet possible.
3. Liver protects our body from harmful substances or toxin that we put in our body either deliberately or unintentionally through food we eat or drink.
4. The liver also protects our body from the toxins by cleaning the blood from chemicals that are spontaneously within our body because of day to day activities.
5. The chemicals removed from the blood are sent into our intestines in form of bile. These chemicals are then removed in form of feces or stool. These chemicals may also be sent into the kidneys where they are filtered out from the body in form of urine.
6. Liver is responsible for producing bile. Bile is very important because it helps in digesting food. Of course, without bile the body would simply fail to remove toxins from the body.
7. The bile produced by the liver is also important because it helps to breakdown fats into smaller particles so that the pancreatic lipase can digest fat better.
8. Bile produced by liver is also responsible for the characteristic brown color of the stool.
9. Our body produces a chemical known as bilirubin. This is pretty toxic and if it goes unfiltered into the kidneys, it can damage them. The liver actually filters and makes bilirubin safe before sending it to the kidneys. The kidneys then filter out the bilirubin from the body along with urine. This is what gives the characteristic yellow color to our urine.
10. Yes, we did say that artificial liver replacement is not possible but liver transplant is possible. One very interesting fact about liver is that it can sustain and survive heavy damage. It can grow back.
11. Liver transplant usually involves cutting out a certain part of the liver from the donor and giving it to the receiver. The part of the liver that is cut out from the donor can actually grow back!
12. Yet another interesting fact about liver is that it never uses sugar for energy. It only stores sugar. In reality, liver is the storehouse of any excess sugar that we consume. It stores this sugar in form of a compound known as glycogen. Between meals when our body needs sugar, the liver breaks down the glycogen to form glucose. This glucose is then used by the remaining body as energy fuel.
13. Almost all medicines that we consume are processed by the liver. Because our body is not capable of using the medicines as is, the liver breaks them down in a form that the body can use.
14. The liver is responsible for producing enzymes and chemicals that helps the blood to clot in the event of bleeding due to a cut.
15. Liver is also responsible for making cholesterol. While high levels of low density lipoprotein or (bad cholesterol) is actually bad, cholesterol is also required for building cells as well as hormones. Hormones are necessary for normal functioning of the body because they can be rightly termed as the messengers in our body. Absence of hormones will lead to abnormal body functioning because they will fail to communicate properly.
16. Liver is responsible for performing over 500 different vital functions of the body.
17. Of all metabolic organs present in our body, liver is the most complex of all and is also the largest of all.
18. At any given point in time, liver contains 10% of the total blood in the body. It filters around 1.4 liters of blood every single minute.
19. ‘Hepar’ is the Greek term for liver. It is because of this Greek name that most liver related medical terms actually start with ‘hepatic or hepato’.
20. The Greeks considered the liver to be the home of all human emotions. According to Greeks, the liver was the organ which was closest to divine presence.
21. The Greeks used to practice what we today call as hepatoscopy. It is a practice where the Greeks used to sacrifice goats and oxen and examined their livers to determine whether they will earn victory in a battle or war.
22. The first ever liver transplant in human history was carried out by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl in year 1963 at University of Colorado Medical School. The transplant was not successful because of the lack of effective immunosuppressive drugs. He made another attempt in 1967 and the transplant was successful.
23. Human liver is actually an iron warehouse. It also contains extra minerals and vitamins which allows a person to perform throughout the day.
24. Our body that is up and running is because of the blood. If blood wasn’t there right from the beginning, we would not even exist. This blood was actually made by liver even before our birth.
25. The liver weighs around 3 pounds and is reddish-brown in color. The liver has two parts – the right lobe and the left lobe. The right lobe is bigger than the left lobe.