Kidneys are versatile things, both inside and outside your body. When they’re connected to blood vessels, they act as a filter and regulate blood pressure. But sometimes, removing them is necessary so that someone else can use them. Other times, these bean-shaped organs are taken out to make a lovely tapas dish or pie. Don’t worry, when it comes to food, we’re not talking about human ones.
Wedges of Nephrons
If you cut a kidney open, you’ll notice that it’s made of millions of tubes surrounded by millions of blood vessels. This maze is the secret to the organ’s filtration process - nephrons. Zoom in on a nephron, and you’ll notice it sort of looks like a wedge of pie. Their job is to separate the liquids from the solids in the blood. The liquid is processed, filtered, re-filtered, and filtered some more until it turns into urine.
Sometimes, when our diets contain too much protein or calcium, these chemicals precipitate and crystallize in the nephrons. As they make their way down into the bladder and urethra (ouch!), blood might appear in the urine. If they’re enormous and stuck, surgery is required. While there’s no way to guarantee you’ll never get a kidney stone, it’s wise to monitor both your diet and the color of your urine. Remember, healthy pee should be a pale yellow or gold color.
Any culture with a significant number of peasants in their past (which is all cultures) will know that kidneys make delicious meals. In Taiwan, they are paired with fish balls and cooked in a delightful, medicinal soup. In Spain, you can find them on your tapas menu. In England, this organ is chopped up, mixed with steak, put into a pie, and baked. If you love weird meat with a minerally taste, then head to any of these places for the good stuff.
By eliminating extra water or retaining much-needed water, kidneys regulate blood pressure. Nephrons work tirelessly, 24/7, to filter over 50 gallons of bodily fluids a day. When this system fails due to disease or toxins, life changes drastically. Those on dialysis and those waiting for a transplant know how tiring and taxing it can be when your blood gets a cleaning every 3-4 days.
We made the kidney and nephron necklace to celebrate this hard-working organ. Not only does it take the occasional punch from a boxing partner, but it also works non-stop to make sure your blood stays in tip-top shape. If you loved these stories about this bean-shaped organ and its wedge-shaped tubes, you can purchase one or both by clicking the link below. These pieces also make great gifts for - nephrologists, dialysis technicians, kidney stone survivors, and starry-eyed pre-med students.
written by Science with Evie