Be sure to look out for your best buddyWho’s your best buddy? If you don’t know, I’ll tell you. It’s your liver.
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
Who’s your best buddy? If you don’t know, I’ll tell you. It’s your liver.
He’s on guard every minute of every day, filtering whatever it is you put into your body, looking for anything that might be bad and kicking it out like an ex-president after an election, a Ku Klux Klan spy at a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People meeting, chaff from the back of a combine and air from a blown truck tire.
He hates toxins more than you hate your ex-wife, her lawyer, the IRS, super greasy French fries and butterless popcorn, plus he filters and checks out your blood more thoroughly than a father does his daughter’s prom date.
You see, Mr. Liver has three main jobs; he cleans your blood, manufactures a digestive liquid called bile that carries waste out of your system and stores energy in the form of a sugar called glycogen.
You’d be hard-pressed to live without him and I know because I lost a friend who found that out the hard way. His car is still parked at my place and it has been for about two months now, with his stuff still inside.
But this isn’t about him. This is about you and you know who you are.
You and your liver might be at odds right now and you don’t even know it. Nevertheless, you will know it someday soon and I say soon because everything in this life is soon.
Of course, that’s not all that Mr. Liver does. He makes the good cholesterol that you need, plus he helps with blood clotting so that you don’t bleed to death after you cut yourself shaving trying to get to work on time. He even takes the active ingredients in an aspirin and breaks them down so that you can use them to chase a nasty headache away.
Kind of like a policeman at the end of an alcohol checkpoint, anything you put in your mouth will eventually meet Mr. Liver and yet he isn’t Superman and even he has his own form of kryptonite. It’s called alcohol.
You see alcohol is even more demanding than Daddy’s little rich girl, contributors to election coffers and bartenders trying to kick you out at closing time.
That’s because alcohol forces the liver to put aside what it’s supposed to be doing and spend all of its time metabolizing the booze, sometimes to the point that it can permanently change the liver’s cell structure, impair its ability to metabolize fats and even turn the liver into one big fat storage quonset, choking off its cells and killing them so that they end up being as worthless as rocks in a wheat field.
This may take at least 10 years for your business partner, five years for your neighbor, one year for Cheri down the street and only six more months for you; because nobody knows when you’ll reach that point since we’re all different.
Plus alcohol doesn’t just affect Mr. Liver. It also causes blood conditions, can impair your white blood cell function which makes you more susceptible to infection, causes half of the cancers in the esophagus, larynx and mouth, gives you high blood pressure, heart disease and heart failure, osteoporosis, some forms of arthritis and even muscle atrophy.
It also affects hormonal production, damages the cells lining your stomach and intestines, blocks the absorption and breakdown of nutrients, and also causes ulcers and so much more.
Doesn’t seem fair, does it? You’re out having a good time, having a few beers with the boys and girls and next thing you know a few years have gone by and Mr. Liver is complaining like a choirboy with a too tight bow tie, a 2-year-old sitting in a barber chair and a hound at the end of a chain.
It creeps up on you like a farm cat on a mouse and the next thing you know you’re in its grasps and going nowhere fast, except down the hatch.
So good luck with this game of Russian roulette, because though you’ll never win, you might not lose for a few years.
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.