I like to compare the way the liver functions to a car’s oil filter, which keeps the engine clean by filtering impurities out of the oil. In the human body, the liver is supposed to keep blood free of toxic metabolites. And it is well-suited for this job.
But like a dirty oil filter, the liver can become clogged up and lose its ability to effectively detoxify the blood.
In order to better appreciate how a person’s liver can become overwhelmed, it’s important to understand how it works to filter dangerous substances out of the blood.
The liver is a large organ located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Its principal function is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract before that blood is circulated throughout the rest of the body.
But it has a wide range of other functions as well, including synthesizing proteins, storing glycogen, producing and activating or deactivating hormones, and producing bile, the substance that is secreted into the intestines to help digest fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
There are two main pathways for liver detoxification, called phase 1 and phase 2. These pathways are designed to neutralize toxic substances so that they can be excreted in stool or urine.
If everything is working right, toxins are neutralized and safely eliminated. However, if the liver is overwhelmed, the body will accumulate toxins.
That’s why it’s important to try to minimize toxic exposures and reduce the workload on the liver.
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