The human body is surprisingly harmonious and functional, and psychological and physiological health is possible only with the coordinated work of all organs. One of the main roles for the normal functioning of the body is played by the liver – the largest gland in the human body. It not only produces and transforms many vital substances, but also acts as the main protector of man. It is this large digestive gland that guards health every day, protecting the body from poisons and other harmful substances.
The structure of the largest gland in humans
The largest human digestive gland typically weighs between 1.2 and 1.6 kg. It is located in the area under the ribs, on the right side of the body. Furrows pass along it, dividing this gland into 4 parts:
The largest is the right side, but its functions, like all the others, are the same. Thanks to this structure, as well as the possibilities of partial regeneration, the liver can exist even “incompletely”. For example, if, as a result of damage, one of the shares has suffered, it can be removed: the remaining part will continue to perform its functions. Moreover, this large body will continue to function, even if only 25% of it remains. And if you remove half of the liver to its original size, it will grow in just two weeks. For the same reason, liver is often transplanted from a living donor who is willing to donate part of his digestive gland to another person.
This largest gland is connected to the peritoneum by five ligaments. The portal vein and the hepatic artery are responsible for communicating with the rest of the body. Sympathetic nerve fibers depart from the solar plexus to the organ, in addition, it is innervated by the nerve fibers of the vagus nerve of the parasympathetic division.
Functions of the largest gland in the human body
One of the main tasks of the liver is to protect the body from toxic substances that enter the body with food or medicines, through the skin or by inhalation. Iron helps the breakdown of poisons, transforming them into other compounds, safer or completely harmless, which are then excreted from the human body naturally. In addition, it is able to remove damaged red blood cells, as well as excess hormones, such as excess estrogen.
In addition, the largest gland in humans performs the following functions:
- Influence on the circulatory system. In the body, the synthesis of the most important substances that affect the processes of blood clotting occurs: prothrombin and fibrinogen. Another important element is also produced here – the anticoagulant heparin.
- Impact on the digestive system. Perhaps one of the most famous facts that even non-physicians know is that this largest gland in the human body produces bile: daily from 700 ml to 1 liter. This substance is vital for the digestive system, as it helps to process food in the duodenum.
- The formation of the fetus. During the formation of the fetal body, the liver also performs additional functions that are not characteristic of an adult organ. So, the digestive gland produces plasma proteins and red blood cells.
- Exchange processes. In this large human gland, the processes of formation, splitting and transformation of substances, the most important processes of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, are constantly taking place. For example, this organ breaks down amino acids into ammonia and urea if they are formed in excess in the body. Few people know, but it is this largest organ that monitors blood sugar levels and, if necessary, regulates its content. To do this, excess glucose contained in the body is converted into another substance – glycogen.
Diseases – what to fear
Wrong lifestyle, bad habits and bad ecology daily expose the liver to significant loads, which often leads to various diseases of such a large digestive organ. The danger of their appearance and development lies in the fact that they are often completely asymptomatic and are diagnosed only at a late stage.
The main causes of diseases of this largest gland are:
- Metabolic disorders.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Viral diseases.
- Toxic injury and drug abuse.
- Autoimmune diseases.
The most common diseases include:
- Hepatitis. This is a viral disease, from which no one is immune. It is one of the most common infections worldwide, killing more than 1.4 million people every year. In addition to the fact that hepatitis destroys vital hepatocytes and causes inflammation, it provokes the appearance of much more terrible diseases. In 78% of cases, it causes primary cancer, and in 57% it causes cirrhosis.
- Cirrhosis. In Russia, cirrhosis is among the top ten most common diseases, annually the disease causes the death of 42,000 people. Its main cause is toxic lesions, as a result of which liver cells die, non-functional connective tissue grows, and existing hepatocytes actively divide. Because of this, liver failure appears, and a large gland can no longer function normally.
- Amoebiasis. This disease is caused by parasites that usually live in the intestines. However, they can spread throughout the body, most often lingering in the liver. This infectious disease in terms of the number of deaths is in this group in second place after malaria.
- Echinococcosis unilocular. This disease of the largest gland is also parasitic. This is a chronic and severe disease caused by tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus. Because of this, numerous cysts are formed that interfere with the normal functioning of the organ. You can get infected in a variety of ways: through contact with animals, through soil, food or water.
- Hepatoma. This disease belongs to the category of tumors that arise due to improper division of liver cells – hepatocytes. Hepatoma is extremely dangerous, because in the early stages it is almost asymptomatic. Because of this, the disease is usually diagnosed late, often in a critical stage with metastases. It occurs most often due to carcinogens, alcoholism, cirrhosis and hepatitis.
How to take care of the largest gland in humans
The largest digestive gland in the body, and its main protector against harmful substances, suffers primarily from the actions of man himself, who daily bombards it with poisons. Fatty foods, full of food additives and other harmful compounds, stress the liver to the maximum, which reduces its functionality and leads to faster wear and tear.
Even more serious problems with the largest gland occur in smokers and drinkers. And if the impact of nicotine is not so great, then alcohol destroys it systematically and quickly enough, which often leads to cirrhosis – one of the most common causes of death for alcoholics.
The best way to avoid disease is to lead a proper lifestyle. Refuse or limit the use of nicotine, alcohol and junk food as much as possible. It is worthwhile to carefully approach the choice of medicines, if possible, giving preference to natural preparations based on herbs. For example, calendula has a choleretic effect and can replace artificial drugs. However, it is worth remembering that in any case, before using any drugs, you should consult a doctor. Prevention is also useful: a course of drugs that support liver function, balneotherapy, mineral water intake and periodic adherence to diet tables for the health of the digestive system.
Interesting facts about the largest human gland
The largest human digestive gland boasts not only its record size. There are some amazing facts about the liver that are almost unknown to people who do not have a medical background.
Here are some interesting facts about liver – the largest gland in humans:
- It is the hottest organ in the human body: its constant temperature is about 42 degrees. This is a real factory that produces substances necessary for human life around the clock. With its help, vitamins, bilirubins, enzymes, lipids, hormones and bile are produced: all this helps to break down food into individual components.
- The largest gland is not in vain so impressive: it acts as a kind of blood bank. It contains a significant supply of blood – about 10% of the total size, which is about half a liter. In emergency situations, it is released into the body to maintain its functions. About one and a half liters of blood passes through this large organ every minute, so damage to the liver is fraught with rapid blood loss. Up to 20% of the total blood volume of the human body can be in the vessels of this large organ at a time. In addition, the active work of the body leads to the fact that it is in it that an active release of energy occurs – on average, about one seventh of the total volume.
- It is not only the largest gland, but also the second largest organ after the skin. An average weight of one and a half kilograms corresponds to the weight of a small cat or dog, for example, a chihuahua.
- The liver is elastic to the touch, not loose or soft.
- The first liver transplant was performed in 1963 in Colorado. It was conducted at the State University School of Medicine by Thomas Starzl. The innovative operation was successful, however, due to improper administration of immunosuppressants, the patient died after a few weeks.
- It has a direct effect on brain activity. This large digestive gland is responsible for the regulation of ammonia and glucose. If the processes go wrong, hepatic encephalopathy occurs, which causes coma.
- The liver is not only in humans, but in all vertebrates. And in all of them, it is the largest gland in the body, performing absolutely identical functions.
- The largest digestive gland in the body fully justifies its size. It not only synthesizes vital substances and protects the body from toxins, but also acts as a repository of blood. Due to the presence of many vital functions, this is the most important human organ after the brain and heart, the health of which must be carefully monitored.
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