Everyone has a liver, even your pet! Your liver is a very important part of your body! Our bodies have lots of parts called organs. We have a stomach, a heart, kidneys, and others—but the liver is the biggest one of all. All our organs do important things, but the liver does a lot. This list shows some of the jobs that the liver does every day.
The liver makes a liquid called bile. Bile helps us digest our food so that our bodies can use all the vitamins and minerals we eat.
When we eat food, the liver helps store vitamins and minerals, and through digestion helps our bodies store energy.
The liver helps us build muscle.
The liver helps us stay healthy by making our immune systems strong and keeping our blood clean. This means that the liver helps fight off germs and illnesses.
The liver can help protect us against pollution or dangerous chemicals.
The liver helps stop cuts and scrapes from bleeding.
Another important job the liver does is that it helps your body use medicines so you can feel better if you are ill.
Where is my liver?
If you raise your right hand, and place it right under your ribcage, on your belly, your hand should be right where your liver is. When you’re a kid the liver is about the size of an apple but by the time, you’re a grown up, it’s your largest organ and is shaped like a small football, will weigh about three pounds and is dark-reddish brown.
Why is my liver so important?
The jobs that the liver does for us are so important that our bodies do not work well if the liver does not work well. While it is true that some people can be born with liver disease, many liver diseases would not happen if people could be a little more careful with their choices.
What causes a liver to be unhealthy?
Sometimes people can be born with unhealthy livers. Some liver diseases that people can be born with are:
Biliary Atresia – a disease that affects the bile ducts of the liver
Hemochromatosis – a disease in which the body stores too much iron
PFIC - a disease in which too much bile builds up in the liver cells
Wilson’s Disease – a disease in which too much copper builds up in the body
Some liver diseases are viruses that people can catch from other people. This means they are “contagious”. Viruses that can hurt the liver are:
Hepatitis A is a virus that usually happens if we eat or drink something that is not clean. People can be vaccinated against hepatitis A to protect themselves. It’s also important that people wash their hands after going to the bathroom, especially if they are going to touch food afterwards. You can be vaccinated against hepatitis A to protect yourself.
Hepatitis B is a virus that is in blood and other body fluids. People who have hepatitis B can pass it to other people by sharing things that could have their blood on them (nail clippers, toothbrushes, needles, tattoo and piercing equipment). That’s why doctors always use clean needles on their patients. Hepatitis B can also be passed through sexual contact. You can be vaccinated against Hepatitis B to protect yourself.
Hepatitis C is a virus that lives in blood. There is no vaccination for hepatitis C, so it’s really important to never share items that could have someone else’s blood on them, just like the ones listed above for hepatitis B.
How can you keep your liver healthy?
One thing you can do to keep your liver healthy is to eat nutritious foods. It’s okay to eat junk food once in a while, but it’s a lot healthier for your liver if you don’t eat lots of junk food. Too much junk food can lead to health problems, so do your best to eat healthy foods most of the time.
Another thing you can do to keep your liver healthy and happy is to stay active. Do things to move your body. Pick activities that you think are fun, but talk to your parent’s or guardians first.
What do you like to do for fun? Some examples of fun activities that get your body moving include:
Riding your bike
Roller skating or roller blading
Playing hide-and-seek with your friends
Playing catch or baseball
Taking a walk
There are so many ways to get moving and be active. Pick what you like the best! Kids should try to get at least an hour (60 minutes) of physical activity every day if you can.
Things that can hurt your liver health
Smoking is not good for your liver or your health. Cigarettes, cigars, and vapes all have toxic chemicals in them that can affect many of the body’s organs in an unhealthy way.
Alcohol can cause liver damage. Children or teens should not drink alcohol because their bodies are not fully developed, and the alcohol can cause permanent damage. Adults who drink a lot of alcohol can seriously damage their livers.
Viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C can harm your liver.
Street drugs can be very toxic and hurt your liver and other organs.
Medicines can help us, but they can cause harm if we do not take them correctly. Always follow the directions on the label or from your doctor, and never share medicines with other people.
Don't forget these tips to keep your liver healthy!
Always wash your hands well.
Eat a healthy diet – fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and low-fat meats like chicken and fish.
Move your body!
Don’t drink alcohol.
Take medicines correctly and never share medicines with other people.
Don’t use street drugs.
Don’t share personal items like nail clippers, razors, and toothbrushes