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How do your kidneys work? - Emma Bryce


46,370 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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After drinking a few glasses of water on a hot day, you might be struck with a sudden ... urge. Behind that feeling are two bean-shaped organs that work as fine-tuned internal sensors. Emma Bryce details how the incredible kidneys balance the amount of fluid in your body, detect waste in your blood, and know when to release the vitamins, minerals, and hormones you need to stay alive.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Kidneys play a vital role in your body. Why are kidneys so important? Visit the National Kidney Foundation and find out more details about hypertension, diabetes and other ways they can become damaged. Click this link and find out how to keep those kidneys healthy.

Despite what they may look like from the outside, the kidneys are more than just a pair of little beans. The best way to understand just how complex these organs really are is to visualize what's inside: this series of four diagrams can help you understand how all the bits fit together.

Kidneys are truly “magical beans” in your body. Need more details and reinforcement on how they work? Visit Khan Academy and get another perspective! Then watch: Parts of a Nephron to get more detail! Sounds complicated doesn’t it? Make some sketchnotes!

Within the kidney, the nephrons create a whole other fascinating world of their own. Find out what these twisty apparatus look like, and what their most important tasks are. But remember, this is just one nephron: each kidney contains about one million of these! Here, you can find out more about these fine filters and how they go about cleaning your blood.

What are kidney stones? Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? What are some symptoms of kidney stones? Visit the Mayo Clinic and find out. Are you at risk for kidney stones?

If you want a more general overview of this organ duo, you can read all about what they do and why they're important. You can also read about some of the kidney conditions that can cause problems in our bodies—proving that even these magical beans aren't always infallible. What’s the latest medical news on kidneys? Visit the Stanford School of Medicine and learn about potential kidney regeneration. Harvard Stem Cell Institute has information on this topic too! For more cutting edge research ideas about the kidney watch and answer the questions in this TED Ed lesson: Printing a human kidney: Anthony Atala.

Think you know a lot about the kidneys? Take the Kidney Quiz. How did you do?

Finally, what makes urine yellow, what can the color tell us, and what makes it change its hue? Here's a guide to urine, to help you figure out what your own is telling you—and when it's a little too neon for comfort. Maybe it's time to take a break and drink that glass of water.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Emma Bryce
  • Director Bill Keaggy
  • Artist Chris Roettger
  • Animator Eric DeFord, Sol Lee, Janghun Lee
  • Narrator Pen-Pen Chen

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