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We all know that the holiday season brings with it some of our favorite foods.  Not just the family favorites like ham, turkey, baked beans, and deviled eggs; but also cakes, cookies, pies, and candies.

We expect those extra calories to have an effect on our weight, but have you ever thought about the effect that all those sugary foods might have on our bones?

Bone Remodeling

The body is all about maintaining the proper pH of the blood, and the way that it does that is through the calcium in our bones.  Calcium is an alkaline substance that the body uses to increase the pH of the blood when it’s become too acidic.

The parathyroid glands monitor the acidity of the blood and when the blood becomes too acidic, it release parathyroid hormone (PTH).  PTH signals osteoclasts in the bones to pull calcium out of the bones.  The osteoclasts carve small tunnels out of the bone, dissolving the collagen and absorbing the calcium into itself.  The osteoclasts then release the minerals into the extracellular fluid and from there the calcium is picked up by the blood.

Once the pH level of the blood is back in it’s normal range, the parathyroid gland stops releasing PTH and the thyroid gland begins to release calcitonin.

Calcitonin triggers osteoblasts in the bones to begin the rebuilding process.  While the osteoblasts in the bone are making the matrix of tissues, fibroblasts in the bone are making collagen fibers for minerals to attach to.

This process of break-down, also called resorption, and rebuilding, called remodeling, is going on in the body consistently – all to maintain the blood pH.

Holiday Hoedown

So what does all of this have to do with the sweets we eat during the holidays?

Well, sugar acidifies the blood which begins the break-down process.  In fact, stress of any kind creates an acidic environment in the body resulting in a need for calcium.  But not just sugar and stress – lack of sleep, coffee, and alcohol all increase the body’s need for calcium.

Additionally, stress causes the adrenal glands to release cortisol which inhibits osteoblasts and fibroblasts from rebuilding the bone.

That doesn’t mean that you can never have a slice of Aunt Nancy’s apple pie or a piece of grandma’s homemade fudge (although limiting the amount of sugar you consume is a great idea).  But it does mean that you might want to think about balancing that out with some good, mineral-rich bone broth, some raw milk (pasteurization and homogenization diminishes the bio-availability of the calcium in milk), crispy nuts, and avocado or other foods high in minerals.

All of these nutritious whole foods can assist the body in keeping your bones strong and healthy.


Here’s my recipe for Bone Broth.

  • Bones – either cow or chicken (pasture raised if at all possible – you can ask for soup bones at the butcher, use the bones from when you  harvest your cow, or collect bones from roasts you’ve cooked for your family until you have enough to fill your crock pot; just keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to make a batch of broth)
  • Water
  • 1 Tbsp. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

Roast the bones in the oven if you want, this gives the broth a nice flavor.  Place the bones in a crock-pot.  Add water so that it covers the bones.  Add the ACV (the vinegar helps pull the minerals from the bones and bring them into the broth).  Cover and cook on low heat for 12 hours.

Strain the broth and put the bones back in the crockpot.  Cover the bones with water again, and add more ACV.  Let this batch cook on low heat for 12 hours too.

Add Real salt, pepper, and seasonings to the strained broth and enjoy!  Store the broth in the refrigerator.  I re-heat and drink at least 1 cup a day.

The broth also makes great soup, and if the 2nd batch doesn’t gel you can use it to make rice or cook vegetables in.


Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Cydne says:

    Great article, Kathy! I didn’t know exactly what the problem with acidity wad, only that it was bad.
    If this were a chronic problem for someone, would it be felt in the Parathyroid signal?
    Does soda also make the body more acidic?

    • Katherine Atkinson says:

      Hi Cydne, 🙂

      If there were a blockage in the parathyroid signal, and even with the thyroid signal, acidity is one of the things I would look at. As you know, these glands are involved in other functions too, but I think sometimes we get so focused on one function that we forget about the others.

      Soda DOES make the body more acidic! But also, the phosphoric acid switches the body from a parasympathetic state to a sympathetic state. So you have high levels of sugar (or worse – high-fructose corn syrup) that make the body acidic, high levels of phosphoric acid that shut down the body’s healing system, then we compound that with the caffeine! Now add soda’s diuretic component – for every 1 cup of soda you consume your body eliminates about 1 1/2 cups of fluid, which means just to get back to where you started you need to have 1 1/2 cups of water; just to break even, we’re not even talking what you need to be hydrated! Soda’s just one big recipe for disaster!

  • Mary Snyder says:

    This makes a lot of sense!
    Thanks for the simple explanation!

  • Alisha says:

    Where do you get your bones or whole chicken from? I cant find pastured chicken here in Utah.

    • Katherine Atkinson says:

      Hi Alisha, 🙂

      I get my beef bones when we harvest our cow. In the Fall I organize a group buy with a rancher up north who raises his cattle on pasture. I use the bones from our portion of the cow to make beef broth. I purchase my chicken from Utah Natural Meat & Milk in West Jordan. The last time we purchased, it was about $4.99 a pound. After eating most of the chicken, I used the rest to make broth and soup. I hope that helps. 🙂