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Human Body

EArtH And FIrE transformation in gut and liver The pleasant thought of food, which makes you go and find some, also stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas, and bile from the gall bladder. These break down food into microscopic morsels in the small intestine whose villi below left absorb them over a surface area the size of a tennis court. Nutrients are intelligently transported into villus cells, and enter the blood through capillaries, which feed this rich soup, via the portal vein, to the liver. Here it mixes with fresh arterial blood in the porous cells of liver lobules below right, where molecular wizardry transforms whatever arrives into whatever you need, for instance making sugars out of proteins, and renders all sorts of poisons harmless or useable. Most nutrient distribution proceeds from the wellnamed liver. Prometheus, chained to the rock of earthly life, had his pecked out every day by a seaeagle. By night it grew back to full size. Likewise, the liver sacrifices its resources and integrity to meet the bodily demands of each day, and by night it restores order, mends itself, synthesises new supplies, and makes ready for the seaeagle that comes with the sunrise. 24
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