The liver, which is located just behind the right side of the rib cage, is the largest internal organ in the human body, accounting for about one-fiftieth of body weight. It has three main functions. Firstly, it synthesizes proteins needed by the body and stores nutrients. Secondly, it detoxifies and decomposes harmful substances. Thirdly, it synthesizes and secretes the bile necessary for food digestion.
When food is eaten it is broken down in the stomach and intestines, and then sent to the liver. Here, it is processed and converted into various components, before being delivered through the arteries to where it is needed in the body. For example, sugar from meals is stored in the liver as glycogen and released into the blood as an energy source at night. Waste products that are no longer needed after being used are returned through the veins to the liver and excreted in the bile. Some of this is reabsorbed by the small intestine and reused in the liver. In this way, the liver is a factory fully equipped for production and recycling.