Q:

What is the role of the liver in digestion?

A:

Quick Answer

The production of bile makes the liver an important organ within digestion, as it emulsifies fat, much like dish soap acts on fat and grease to split it into smaller pieces. This process makes it much easier for the body to process fats. Hepatocytes within the liver also absorb much of the glucose that comes from digested food and stores the sugar as glycogen for later release. This helps the body regulate its sugar levels.

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What is the role of the liver in digestion?
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Full Answer

Bile is a blend of cholesterol, water, bilirubin and bile salts. The bilirubin comes from digesting old red blood cells that have worn out for use in the hepatocytes, which turn them into protein for the body. The benefit of having bile break down fats is that the body is able to excrete much more of the excess fat that it would otherwise be able to do.

Glycogen is an extremely important substance in the body. Without it, everyone would go through significant spikes of high and low blood sugar throughout the day as they went through the cycle of mealtime. While diabetics have difficulty controlling sugar levels at times, without glycogen, everyone would go through extreme highs and lulls as the body digested each meal. In general terms, the liver is a filtering system for the body, breaking down what the body does not need and aiding in the digestion of nutrients that it does need.

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Related Questions

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    Why do you have bile after gallbladder removal?

    A:

    After the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to make the same amount of bile as always, but since the gallbladder is no longer there to collect and store the bile, it continuously drains into the digestive system, explains Liver Doctor. Sometimes bile flows back into the stomach, called bile reflux, and it occurs more often in people whose gallbladders are removed, notes Mayo Clinic. Bile reflux symptoms include severe upper abdominal pain, a sour taste and vomiting bile.

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  • Q:

    What role do bile salts play in the digestion of fat?

    A:

    Colorado State University states that bile salts play a role similar to a detergent in the digestion of fat by emulsifying the hydrophobic fat molecules. The tiny suspended particles of fat that result from this are much more accessible to enzymes necessary to digest them than the larger drops that would remain without bile salts. The bile salts are also critical in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamin D.

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  • Q:

    What is the function of the gallbladder?

    A:

    The gallbladder's function is to store bile produced by the liver and release the bile into the small intestine during digestion in order to neutralize acids and break down fats. The fat in the digested food enters the small intestine, releasing cholecystokinin and triggering the gallbladder to release bile via the common bile duct.

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  • Q:

    What does the gallbladder do in the human body?

    A:

    According to WebMD, the gallbladder is a small pouch situated behind the liver that stores bile for use in digestion. The gallbladder's primary purpose is the storage and secretion of bile.

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