Channeling the Wisdom of Nature to Balance Your Body 

Plants have the power to help restore your health—as long as you know how to use them! And thankfully, my friend Dr. Alan Christianson is back on the podcast to tell us exactly how to take advantage of nature’s wisdom to help restore hormonal balance. 

We kick off the episode by busting the myth that plants are a food to fear. On the contrary, Dr. Alan posits that thanks to a “full on arms race” in the plant kingdom, your body simply can’t operate at its full capacity without them. And in his new book, The Hormone Healing Cookbook, you’re going to learn exactly how to foster that connection.

I chat with Dr. Alan about how he scoured the latest research to find ways that plants can promote hormone balance naturally, helping with symptoms ranging from insomnia to hot flashes to weight gain. As a lazy chef myself, I’m thrilled to report that he uncovered the ways humble, easy-to-use ingredients like oats, onions, figs, and beets can improve your health. (I’ll admit there’s one recipe that wouldn’t be my personal fave, but tune in to see if it’s your new go-to!) 

He also shares a carb rule of thumb that will make it easier for you to make smart diet choices, and a totally free quiz that highlights the hormonal imbalances his recipes may help minimize. No matter the topic, Dr. Alan always has fascinating yet accessible info to provide—and this episode is no exception. 


00:01:26 – Introducing Dr. Alan Christianson and his book, The Hormone Healing Cookbook
00:04:02 – Busting myths about plant toxins
00:07:00 – Shining light on the cookbook-creation process
00:22:41 – Exposing the negative impacts of a low-fiber diet
00:23:40 – Revealing the most beneficial plants for overall health and well-being
00:27:15 – Walking through a typical daily diet for Dr. Alan Christianson
00:29:50 – Cautioning listeners about the foods Dr. Alan Christianson wouldn’t eat
00:33:26 – Introducing the free Hormone Symptom Quiz

Freebies From Today’s Episode

Get Dr. Alan’s Free Hormone Symptom Quiz – Learn which hormones are likely causing symptoms and which foods can help

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Learn more about Dr. Alan Christianson

The Hormone Healing Cookbook by Dr. Alan Christianson

Past podcast episodes with Dr. Alan Christianson

Study: Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population

Study: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review.

Study: Effect of Oat Beta Glucan on Affective and Physical Feeling States in Healthy Adults: Evidence for Reduced Headache, Fatigue, Anxiety and Limb/Joint Pains

Study: Effect of Daily Ingestion of Quercetin-Rich Onion Powder for 12 Weeks on Visceral Fat: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study

Study: Neurocognitive effects of umami: association with eating behavior and food choice

Click Here To Read Transcript

ATHE_Transcript_Ep 563_Dr. Alan Christianson
JJ Virgin: [00:00:00] I am JJ Virgin, PhD Dropout. Sorry, mom, turn four time New York Times bestselling author. Yes, I'm a certified nutrition specialist, fitness Hall of Famer, and I speak at health conferences and trainings around the globe. But I'm driven by my insatiable curiosity and love of science to keep asking questions, digging for answers, and sharing the information I uncover with as many people as I can, and that's why I created the Well Beyond 40 podcast.
To synthesize and simplify the science of health into actionable strategies to help you thrive. In each episode we'll talk about what's working in the world of wellness, from personalized nutrition and healing your metabolism to healthy aging and prescriptive fitness. Join me on the journey to better health.
So you can love how you look and feel right now and have the energy to play full out at 100.
If you've been struggling with your hormones, what if I told [00:01:00] you that you could get rid of your hot flashes, you could have more energy. You could reduce pain and inflammation by simply adding a couple ounces of specific foods into your diet. Would that be a heck yeah. I would hope so. And what if I told you that there's actually a quiz you can take to help you identify exactly what you need to do?
I know, I know it sounds too good to be true, but it's not. And my guest today, who has been on the show a number of times, because he's so awesome, Dr. Alan Christensen has done just this with this Hormone Healing cookbook, and he also has his. Food hormone quiz, which I'll tell you how to get for free. Let me tell you a little bit about him first.
And then this episode I gotta tell you is fire. Will you talk about these specific types of foods, which you can do, how easy they are to add in some recipes. One, I was like, what you'll, you'll know why I questioned it Anyway, let me tell you about Alan. Dr. C is a naturopathic [00:02:00] endocrinologist who focuses on thyroid disease.
He's a New York Times bestselling author. Who's written A Metabolism Reset Diet and the Thyroid Reset Diet, and he is the founding president of the Endocrine Association of Naturopathic Physicians. He's literally trained thousands of physicians worldwide in natural thyroid care. He has frequently appeared on national TV shows like Dr. Oz, the Doctors, the Today Show and CNN, and then in print like Shape, Women's World Natural Health. And again, he has put together an amazing cookbook. Turns out he wrote the recipe himself and I can vouch for his cooking skills cuz I have eaten at his house multiple times and it's always been amazing. So you're gonna be able to get information on his cookbook.
You'll be able to take this food hormone quiz. And I'm also gonna put all the other things that we've done together. Cause we've had some great episodes and he has great books. So I'll put all of that at . All right. I will be right back. Dr. C, stay with me.[00:03:00]
Okay. We have a crowd pleaser with us today back live, Dr. Alan Christianson. I am super excited to be talking to you today. Thank you for joining me.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Always good to be with you, JJ. Yeah, this will be a lot of fun.
JJ Virgin: Well, I hope we're gonna jump in first cuz I know we're gonna talk about hormones and food and how to use food for specific symptoms, which is super cool.
And what I hope we can do first is bust a myth cuz I know you're quite the myth buster out there. I feel like over the last couple years people have become afraid of plants. They become a scary thing. Last thing you wanna do is push people away from plants and into ultra processed foods. You know, I mean, it's like I went, wait a minute.
If there's something that we should be afraid of. I don't think it's the broccoli. So can we first start and talk about plants? You know, this whole discussion about plants and plant toxins [00:04:00] and, and all the scary things and should you avoid them?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. Boy, we can. Yeah, that'd be great to go into. Yeah, you go
JJ Virgin: ahead.
Rant away.
Dr. Alan Christianson: I'll rant for a bit. Plants, we've got massive dataset showing that the more plants people eat, the more kinds of plants they eat, the healthier they are. Pretty irrefutable. And yet you can make an argument why almost any plant could be dangerous. How do you manage that tension? How do those things coexist?
So plants give us different things. They give us macronutrients, you know, fats, proteins, carbs. They give us micronutrients, they give us vitamins and minerals. Well, they also give us phytonutrients, and here's where it gets weird. So phytonutrients is kind of a generous term for what could be called phyto toxins.
So plants make massive amounts of pesticides or herbicides or insecticides. There's like a full on arms race going on in the plant kingdom. We've evolved along with these things. They've evolved and adapted to us. We've evolved and adapted to them. I [00:05:00] gotta pull in a concept called hormesis. So a tiny bit of something bad can actually be good, like exercise.
You know, if you were to put someone at gunpoint and make them march for a couple days, they die. You know, not a good thing. But if you make 'em walk an hour, probably a really good thing. And so some things that stress the body make the body stronger. And this is called her mesis. And we know that phyto toxins, these toxins that are in plants, they are toxins that in macro amounts they would be lethal.
No debate about it. And all the scary things we hear about, they will tear up your gut X, Y, z. Totally true. If you were to take huge amounts of these and take them out of the whole food matrix in which they're found totally true. But in the amounts and in the context of the food matrix, these things are good for us.
JJ Virgin: It does feel like over the last couple years people are like, should I be eating these things anymore? And then I did a podcast with their buddy, Dr. Jeff. He is, you know, very gung-ho on Himalayan tartary buckwheat, and it's got all these [00:06:00] amazing properties. But the reason it has the amazing properties is because it is grown in the harshest environment.
Right. And guess what it created because of that? It gets tough. Yeah. Yeah, it gets tough. So it has all these properties that can help us.
Dr. Alan Christianson: So classic example. So buckwheat products, they're rich in various types of bioflavonoids. You know, rutin is a classic example of that. And in bioflavonoids, well, they're insecticides, they kill small insects.
But in our bodies they encourage the growth of connective tissues, almost like, think about like how sand irritates an oyster and it grows a pearl. So things that are found in plants are tiny micro irritants, and they make our bodies respond in ways that are useful. It's not like they supercharge us, it's that we expect them.
It's like our bodies are waiting for them and we don't really work at our normal capacity in their absence.
JJ Virgin: Well, that's a big statement. So you've written this new book. Do you [00:07:00] write a cookbook or do you like create a cookbook? I think it's more of a creation, and I'm, I'm betting Kieran might have had a hand in it too, your wife.
But in doing this, the premise is that, Food can help your hormones. Yeah, let's kind of dig into that one. And also, do plants have hormones? Like, let's unpack that.
Dr. Alan Christianson: This is crazy stuff. So hormones, I think most people have a sense that they're important, that they do a lot. I hope so. And that good hormone levels are the difference between feeling great and not functioning very well.
So there's having the basic amounts of hormones, but then there's countless ways that our body regulates how they convert, how they circulate, how they absorb across the cells, how they're eliminated, and plants help all of this stuff. One example could be like broccoli. We know that there's glucosinolates in broccoli.
Well, that's a, that's an herbicide. That's something that in high amounts, kills certain types of invasive plants, but in tiny amounts, [00:08:00] it's something that. Our liver registers and our liver then works harder in ways that makes it better at regulating hormones. So yeah, we ingest plants. Plants actually do have hormones like you said, and that's that's part of it.
So we simply consume hormones, which chain is our total circulating load? But there's also a lot of ways in which their phytonutrients make us better able to do our own managing and juggling and getting things right
JJ Virgin: Along those lines. Then if plants have hormones, and I think I would think of some of the classic things like.
Yams for progesterone and soy for estrogens. Mm-hmm. If that's the case, can that
Dr. Alan Christianson: be a bad thing? Yeah, that's a, that's a super logical question. Let's talk about soy. There's a little more depth in that story. So, soy has phytoestrogens, A lot of foods have them actually, you know, we, we see that in spinach.
We see that in kale. Lots of plants have phytoestrogens, flax as a paramount. This is pretty wild, but there's, there's so much wisdom in nature and there's so much ways in which these things [00:09:00] help us with homeostasis. So our body has receptors for estrogen back up a step. So think about a hormone as a key and your body has, you know, locks that fits certain keys.
And as a generalization, there's sometimes that we want the keys to be used and sometimes we don't want them to be used. So with estrogen, for example, with aging, there can be a loss of skin elasticity. You know, a loss of collagen growth, a loss of healthy bone density, a loss of repair of brain cells.
These are all things that estrogen can help with. But there can also be then problems of proliferation of abnormal breast cells that could lead to cancer or build up of the endometrial lining. Well, these are actually a different type of estrogen receptor, so there's an alpha and a beta receptor. You could think about that as good or bad, you know, super simple, but not too far from the truth.
Soy as a phytoestrogen, it actually plugs up that bad receptor. So imagine that that's a, that's a lock that you don't want a key to get into. Well, soy is kinda like wax that goes in there. So the wax doesn't open the lock, but it makes the keys not [00:10:00] fit. So it makes the body numb to even other kinds of bad estrogens if there's too much estrogen from the body itself.
Or if there's synthetic estrogens from contraceptives or from plastic compounds. So the phytoestrogens and soy block those things and prevent them from doing anything. Now, over on the good side, the, the collagen, the skin, the bones, the brains, so soy helps keep that one more open, so to say. It's an estrogen kind of, sort of, it's an, we call it a selective estrogen response modifier.
So it helps it in the ways you would want and then blocks it in the ways that you don't. So yeah, it's pretty amazing. Talk
JJ Virgin: nature being smart. Let's list out a couple more of them, cuz I know, you know, flax happens to be my favorite. Chickpeas too, right?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Those are great. You know, figs are ones that I use a lot in the book.
They've got this compound called 7 Methoxy coumarin, and this is a estrogen response modulator as well. It's one that we don't hear about as much. Lots of big [00:11:00] datasets have shown that in a matter of a week, just a few figs a day in addition added to the diet. Can just plummet pretty much all the major hot flash symptoms.
JJ Virgin: Holy smokes. But we're not talking fig Newtons
Dr. Alan Christianson: Not talking fig newtons. Well, and this is the thing, you know, what foods do in the context of a healthy diet Whole Foods is totally different than what those food extracts might be doing in ultra processed foods. So yeah, the context makes such a big difference.
JJ Virgin: Wow. So give me an example, since it's not the Fig Newton. I'm not a fig lover, but maybe I just have not had a fig in the right recipe. So what are you doing with figs?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, here's one that I like that I'll mention. I'll come back to that. But here's one that you would like. Savory steel cut pilaf. Steel cut oat pilaf.
There's a savory version of that that I've got in the book, and it's got some diced figs in there. It's not sweet. The figs make a more complex, rich flavor.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, I just, you know, I don't like sweet things.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Most people. Here's one that most people [00:12:00] besides JJ would like. So carob fig balls. These are super easy to make.
Toasted, toasted carob and figs and a food processor and some walnuts. Really easy to throw together and they're a great snack and portable, good shelf life. Really healthy, slowly absorbed. Yeah, lots of good ways to use them.
JJ Virgin: Figs, who knew? I'd love to dig into some more specifics on this, but kind of a bigger question before we dig into some of these specifics, and using these plants now to help with.
Hormones cuz I've always thought of things like, you know, broccoli to help with estrogen metabolism, but this is like a whole step. This is way deeper than that. How quickly would you notice as you start to use these things, like let's say you're starting to use some of these phytoestrogens, like figs and flax, how quickly would you start to notice a difference?
Dr. Alan Christianson: How quickly things change? The body can have symptoms that are based upon how it's functioning and then how it's built. So like functional and structural symptoms. A functional symptom could be like mental alertness or [00:13:00] energy, and a structural symptom could be like how healthy your hair is or your skin is.
Now, the functional symptoms, there's actually papers on this. In the case of Rosemary. You know, I've got a chapter about talking about helping brain function, you know, reversing brain fog. There's data showing that rosemary's effects are pretty much instantaneous. It's not even ingesting it, it's just tasting it and inhaling it.
You can have measurable effects pretty much at the point of usage for mental function, really. So
JJ Virgin: you just have to snort some rosemary. I love rosemary, so it is my favorite. Of all herbs and we always seem to run out. I don't know what happened. Tim's, like, we have one entire spice drawer that is just rosemary.
He's like, you know, you need to calm down. But I just, ugh. I think it's fabulous. So now you just gave me a reason to use more of it.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, a cool trick is whenever you get the fresh stuff, just throw whatever you're not using in the freezer and you can pull that out and use that whenever.
JJ Virgin: Hmm. Okay.
So that, that's another question because you know, I'm a lazy chef, and so we have [00:14:00] all dried, it's organic, but all dried. Rosemary, is that okay? Or is the fresh that much better, or does it not matter?
Dr. Alan Christianson: As far as the health effects, there's no clear difference whatsoever. Yay.
JJ Virgin: To be clear, I didn't pay him to say that.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Okay. No, no differences. You use different quantities based upon recipes and some real intense gourmands may suggest there's a little taste differences, but yeah, the dried stuff works just fine.
JJ Virgin: Okay. That's very exciting. We talked some phytoestrogens. Let's dig into some other ones. Make me happy. Do some more things like rosemary.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, so a cool thing you know, energy levels, a lot of folks get too tired for various reasons. And one of my favorites here are beets. Beets are really cool food. They're related to nitric oxide metabolism. And this is how our body uses energy. You know, you push exercise so much too, and. A lot of things that help athletes can actually help anyone make more energy, even if they're not, you know, trying to run, just functioning, getting through life.
We do that better [00:15:00] if we can have more energy. So yeah, beets have been shown to raise our aerobic capacity almost by 30%. What? Within a week.
JJ Virgin: Wow. How much beat is required to get that effect? And do we have to have like a daily beat? Like what's the story?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. So it's about, about a beet a day is what, what it takes for that in endurance sports?
No, they make these concentrated beet shots. People do them, like before events. There's, there's clear evidence for it. They're, they're not illegal, but they're pretty much blood doping for endurance athletes.
JJ Virgin: Wow. That I'm, I'm so telling Tim's son is the, like, was the number one volleyball recruit in the country.
I think you've seen him. Have you? Did you see him, he's six nine. Wow. Yeah. I was like, where'd this come from? Anyway, I'm gonna like dope him with some beets.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, if you wanna get a little bit specific and kind of weird is that. You've gotta, you've gotta taste them. Believe it or not, they make some powders and they also make some capsules.
That probably wouldn't work. It seems to mix with the saliva for this nitric [00:16:00] oxide metabolism.
JJ Virgin: So a beet gummy, I'm kidding.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You have a lot of,
JJ Virgin: I'm totally, totally kidding. So, but literally for that kind of thing, one beet serving a day, which beets are pretty big, aren't they?
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, you'll see different sizes.
The average ones are about 2, 2, 3 ounces.
JJ Virgin: That's a doable thing. When I, when I was doing the what to eat, when to eat and why Summit? Tom O'Brien was like, every day we need to get in a root vegetable. I was like, okay, I can, I can get the beet in, I can put the beet in salad. I just need to figure out someone who's gonna come make my golden beets for me.
Cause those are the ones I like. Okay. Do you eat a beet every day?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Pretty much not. I don't make every single day, but if it's close to an event, I will. I'll be more consistent about that. Beet juice is an easy way to do it regularly as well.
JJ Virgin: All right. And when he says an event, he's not talking, going to a party.
He's talking about an athletic event. Okay. Just to be clear. All right, so beyond the beets, what else?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Another fun thing you know, walnuts. We've got walnut, Allegro peptides along the lines of energy. Believe it or [00:17:00] not. Physiologists don't totally know why we get tired. You'd think that would be an easy question, but we don't totally have the answers.
But we know that part of it relates to the buildup of these various metabolic wastes. You know, we've got lactic acid, lactate dehydrogenase, blood urea, nitrogen, these sorts of things. Walnut illegal peptide helps us clear pretty much all of those much, much faster. So we get rid of the wastes much more quickly, and they also improve the other end of that, which is the krebs cycle of energy formation.
So yeah, we make energy better within our mitochondria. We clear the wastes more quickly
JJ Virgin: from them. So how many walnuts does this require, and how quickly would you start to notice a, a shift in your energy? And is this again another daily thing or is it something that because it's a fatty thing, it's stored or what?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. Yeah. All great questions. So, the League of Peptides, they are stored, they're metabolized more slowly. If you're averaging about an ounce per day, you can see substantial benefits. And in terms of time of onset, you know, one paper that I saw, it was a pretty cool thing. They, they had [00:18:00] cyclists. And they gave one group this cookie with purified oils or whatnot, you know, oils and protein and carbohydrate.
And the other group got an actual cookie made of mostly walnuts, but it was the same calorie load, the same macro load. But these were ingested right before a time trial event. So immediately with like an hour before, and there was an observable difference of like 13% better endurance in a time trial.
JJ Virgin: Wow. And was this blinded? It was, yeah. Those poor people, how unfair for the people who got the process cookie? Good thing.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know. You know, and I've mentioned a couple things about athletes. I really wanna have the listeners connect that. That's fine for those who are, but even if you're not, again, you want more energy.
And so the ways in which we make energy in just day-to-day life, it's the same way that we make energy at the extremes in athletic events. So if we can do it better there, we can do it better anywhere.
JJ Virgin: I love that statement. And you know, when you think about it, like what are the big things [00:19:00] people complain about? Energy is a huge one. And then pain and inflammation. Mm-hmm.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, a big one there. And this is a cool thing too, in terms of back to like regular real world audiences. One of the studies that I cite in the book was on those with severe fibromyalgia, so pretty much debilitating.
For some people. I remember one, one of my first few patients back in the nineties she was dropping out of college and she couldn't function. She was pretty much bedridden and the best diagnosis she had was fibromyalgia. The study that I'm gonna refer to, they used beta glucan from whole oats, and the intake was like two ounces of oats per day, which is not very much.
And they saw, and this is actually a blinded study as well, and they saw over a 50% improvement of quality of life symptoms over the course of two months. So, so yeah, we can see big, big differences in inflammation and pain from Whole
JJ Virgin: Foods. You know, you just pointed this out but didn't really point it out.
So I'm gonna bring this to light because you have talked about, it's just an ounce of this, it's just two [00:20:00] ounces of that. And what I'm really hearing here is how important diversity is. Yep. I did a call, I did one with Deanna Minich and one with Sarah Valentine. And both of them are, their whole thing is food diversity and what happens and, and I think it's something that when you look at the average diet, I, I don't know what the stats are, but I'm guessing people are in a food rut and pretty much eating the same stuff every single day.
You know what I'd love to look at is diversity. If you can talk a bit about diversity and then also. After that, what are some of the foods now, I know you're talking about in the cookbook things for specific hormones, and we've got a quiz about that, but I'd love to know just overall some of those foods that you would just make sure that you put into your diet on a regular basis.
Like when you say that about beets, it's like, okay, let's definitely get the beets in. Like what are some of those foods that are just so good and do so many things that it's important to have, [00:21:00] especially with, you know, everybody kind of suffering from energy issues, right? And stress issues.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. So in terms of the expanding on the point about diversity, yeah.
Couldn't agree more. We think a lot of this comes down to the phytonutrients that we kind of open the discussion with, but also fibers, so not fiber, but fibers, you know, there's, there's at least 16 common kinds of fibers that can be had in the diet. The tough thing is that if you're, if you're on a carnivore diet, that's 60 goes to zero sadly to say,
JJ Virgin: which is the problem with that carnivore diet.
Dr. Alan Christianson: There's pretty clear consensus that our gut flora does stuff is useful, you know, that's all it lives on, you know, it's a garden and these fibers, that's the water in the sunlight, you know, that's, that's all they, that's all they have to go off of is these insoluble indigestible fractions from plants.
They can't function on anything else. And it's not a matter of chugging 60 grams of Metamucil per day.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. Not diversity of fiber there either. You know, when I was on Freaky [00:22:00] Eaters, we had a guy come on the show who only he lived on Rami. Wow. And he was the first carnivore, Paul Saladino. There was already someone else.
We ran labs. His labs looked great. And I'm like, I gotta convince this guy that this is no bueno. Right. So what I did was I did a stool test. Oh wow. And it showed everything, you know, besides the fact he had some really bad, creepy crawly things in there. I was like, uhoh, but complete out of balance, gut microbiome from that type of a diet, which, You know, I think everyone's focusing on, oh, you lost weight.
I'm like, but at what expense? Hello. Right. You know, and what's gonna happen long term?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, just one more point on that. So a low, an extreme low fiber diet. Total fiber, fiber diversity. It's just like taking antibiotics every day. It's no different at all.
JJ Virgin: Holy smokes. What? Yeah.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Wow, you're starving your flora, you're killing off all of your good organisms.
And we've learned a lot about the bacteria relevance of that. But now I know there's good fungi, there's actually good [00:23:00] viruses as well. But you're just, you're just taking broad spectrum antibiotics every single day when you're on an extreme low fiber diet or even like, A diet that's restricted, radically restricted in food categories.
It's the same problem that is the bold statement.
JJ Virgin: I'm so pulling that out like that, that has like, you know, you can't ignore that. And we all know about the issue with antibiotics in the gut. So the diversity for the different types of fiber, the diversity for the different. Phytonutrients. Let's walk through some of your most favorite plants and why.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, you know, up there on the list, I mentioned oats already as one of them, but I would put onions way up there too. They're pretty humble, pretty common things, but if we add to our regular intake of things from that family, it's powerful. There's actually a double blind placebo controlled study, believe it or not, done in Japan.
They took some onion extracts and powdered them and had some people take the extracts, some take a placebo, and [00:24:00] they showed that. If you're averaging, really, it was only, I'm trying to get the exact numbers. Yeah, it was actually two grams. Of an onion extract, which is the equivalency of about like 20 grams of onion, which is not hard to do.
They saw market reductions in visceral fat and related measurable inflammation.
JJ Virgin: Wow. That's huge. Yeah. You're listening and you would like to lower your visceral adipose tissue, that bad stuff hanging out around your organs, which is by a cold plunge every day. Maybe I can just toss the cold plunge and start the onion,
Dr. Alan Christianson: onion pudding.
That's one of my favorite recipes. Onion pudding, really onion pudding. It's a savory pudding. You like French onion soup?
JJ Virgin: I love french onion soup. Okay. I just get it without all the garbage. They like french onion soup without, they're always like, you want that without the cheese and bread? I'm like, yes. I just want the onions.
I love, love, love french onion. Okay. Tell me what's in savory onion
Dr. Alan Christianson: pudding. It's, it's onions, so french onion soup, but they're, they're sauteed down quite a bit. That's how it starts out. Mm-hmm. You saute a whole bunch of onions and you compress them down. You reduce 'em down by about a quarter.
Small amount of a [00:25:00] neutral cooking oil. I usually use some kind of an unsweetened milk like, like flax milk. There's a small amount of that. And then really some garlic, some salt and pepper, and then the cooking time. And you can then reduce that down and bake that. You can make it as a dessert if you wanna like make it sweeter, or you can do it as is and it's a phenomenal side dish.
JJ Virgin: That like, ew, you would serve onion pudding as a dessert
Dr. Alan Christianson: with some more sweetener in there for sure.
JJ Virgin: Like what would you like a sweet onion pudding. I like the savory idea. We'll leave it over there. I think it, it's, you kinda lost me on sweet onion pudding. Okay, onions. Love that. What else?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Cayenne is a great one.
You know so much good data about that basal metabolic rate. Also diminishing the brain satiety response, you know, helping change appetite levels. And then also substance P. So changing pain response throughout the entire body. You know, pain and inflammation. Funny thing, but we have taste receptors, right?
So we can taste salty, sour, sweet savory [00:26:00] slash umami, but we can also taste spicy. But that's not really tasting because there's no taste receptor for that. There's this thing called substance P, and that's our pain receptor. So spicy things, even in small amounts, they diminish the amount of bioavailable substance p things don't hurt as much.
JJ Virgin: Wow. Yes. And I also just saw some research on umami. Like if you eat first, eat something with the umami flavor, it lowers your appetite Totally. So that's super cool. I've been doing, you know, every day I do one of these suja lemon loves, which is lemon juice with cayenne. Mm-hmm.
I don't like hot stuff, but it's just, I can do it. It's like just enough. All right. See, and you know what I love about this is this is all so easy to pull into the diet. Mm-hmm. Super duper easy.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You gotta eat anyway. You might as well use things that make it count.
JJ Virgin: Well, you gotta eat, but you know, I see one of the challenges out there is like, For most people, they're not looking to spend more time in the kitchen.
Mm-hmm. So, you know, it's always like, how [00:27:00] do you accomplish these things and make it simple and delicious. Right. Walk me through a typical day of your eating and like what you and Kieran would eat in a day. I know now we've cured Kieran of her, hopefully Sweet Tooth. And for those of you, listen, Kieran is his wife.
And early on she came to me because she had a sugar edition and I basically told her everything that. Dr. C had told her
Dr. Alan Christianson: And you told her more effectively?
JJ Virgin: Yeah. Well, I was like, she, you know, there's no profit in your hometown, right? And she was like, oh, wow. We laughed about it. I was like, yeah, just,
Dr. Alan Christianson: and then JJ told me this.
I'm like, huh. Who would've thought how smart you do that?
JJ Virgin: Okay, so what's like, what's, what are some of the big, you know, your typical day and things you make sure that you eat? Yeah.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Hers is all start with hers. It's a little simpler. She's pretty consistent about starting with a shake, you know, protein shake for for breakfast, and then she'll do a fair amount of unlimited snacks.
She's prepping for a pageant later on, later on [00:28:00] this summer. So she's like in pageant prep mode. The most of her acts are, we call the unlimited foods, and that's all kinds of veggies. We, we make like a vegetable soup. We'll have often some that pre-made. Or we'll make a ratouille you know, tomatoes and eggplant and bell peppers pre-cooked up and.
Ready to go or carrot fries, made carrot fries a couple of days ago. Those are some of her most favorite. Mid-morning, mid-afternoon, afternoon snacks.
JJ Virgin: Now are you making carrot fries in an air fryer?
Dr. Alan Christianson: I just used the, the oven on on roast mode and convection mode, which is kind of the same thing as an air fryer, but it's got more room.
You can do more stuff at once.
JJ Virgin: I know that air fryer's so small, I'm like,
Dr. Alan Christianson: yes, you know, they're awesome, but we go through food too fast for that. So those are typical breakfasts and snacks. Lunch. You know, today we had some, some chicken soup. I made that over the weekend, and that was leaks, you know, leaks plus onions, you know, carrot, celery, rosemary, some spinach.
What's the benefit of leeks? Leeks, you know, more benefit like onion, you know, good sources of quercetin, [00:29:00] chacon bioavailable. Lots of polysaccharides and just, you know, just a classic necessary flavor for chicken soup. That was some lunch with some leftovers. Tonight we're gonna be driving a little ways.
Going to visit my parents. And I made some meatballs up in advance, so we'll have those just before we head out. And those were lean Turkey, a fair amount of ginger. Also we'll serve that with some rice and a side of some cabbage.
JJ Virgin: What about. What you wouldn't ever do. Like what are your, some of your, you know, I, because people always say, oh, everything in moderation.
I'm not a subscriber to everything in moderation. I think there are some things that should never be eaten. Maybe you don't feel that way, but are there any things that you think should either never be eaten or very, very rarely.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, I guess if it's life or death, you know, if it's like survival.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. I mean, I'm not talking life or death.
You're out in the tundra, you know, I mean, maybe that could happen with you in Minnesota, but, you know.
Dr. Alan Christianson: No, I'm, I'm with you. And, and as I mentioned that I'll, even, the, the mindset I think changes to where over time you [00:30:00] really pair what you eat with how you're gonna feel and how it's going to affect you.
And you get to where, It's not a reward to do things, you know, aren't gonna make you feel good. That's not a
JJ Virgin: treat, you know, I would hope that you've gotten to that point in life where you go, oh, if I do this, you, if you like, feel like crap, it's gonna take days to get over. Maybe not, you know?
Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. You know, I, I'd probably put fries from the top somewhere on the top of that.
You know, fried, fried food, french fries especially. That's, I don't know. I guess I worked in a restaurant too during high school and just being around areas where there's the fryer going off, the smell, the oil in the air that just grosses me out. All those oxidized hydrogenate oils. Yeah, that, that's nasty stuff.
JJ Virgin: Okay. No fries, but all you have to do is put it in your convection oven.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Oh, totally. Yeah. Those are great. I love making baked baked fries at home. I have those a lot.
JJ Virgin: Yeah. So we're not saying no fries. We're saying no damaged oil. Nasty fries.
Dr. Alan Christianson: And that's, and that's just it, is that there's just a world of difference between whole foods and [00:31:00] processed foods and how they affect you.
Even like, for example, the word sugar can be radioactive. I talked about figs a few days ago about, you know, a couple figs and hot flashes, and some people said, well wait, but don't they have sugar in them? I'm like, well, there's a difference. Yeah, there's sugar to a nutritionist, sugar to a biochemist.
Mm-hmm. Sugar to a biochemist is pretty much everything. I mean, meat has sugar in that sense. You can't escape it. But sugar and processed foods, that context is completely different from the matrix of sugar in a whole food. So yeah, those things are different.
JJ Virgin: There's a huge difference between eating an apple and having apple juice.
Yep. You know, one of the other things I've been really looking at in terms of processed food, because you know, one of the other challenges is like, unless you're Alan living in Minnesota on a lake, if you're eating wild salmon or whatever it is, something happened for it to get to you. You know, oatmeal, something happened to those oats for them to get to you, so.
Mm-hmm. You know, we're not saying processed food is bad, we're saying the ultra-processed food is bad. And one of the ways I can tell, I think [00:32:00] that's a great distinguisher is if you eat it and you want more, you're full. Right. And you're like, bet you can't eat just one. Yeah. Right. If you bet you can't eat, just one, don't eat it.
That's a sure sign. That's a processed food that has been created. To bring out your evil twin stay away.
Dr. Alan Christianson: A long time ago we did a live and talked about the whole dry carb thing as being a big factor for that.
JJ Virgin: Oh yes. I loved your wet carb, dry carb thing. Tell, tell everybody about that. I forgot all about that.
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, it's not a perfect formula for the things you can't eat just one, but it's pretty close. So yeah, so like. Oatmeal. You got this. No, you don't. You don't wake up in the middle of the night and go make an extra bowl of oatmeal. You just, you just don't do it. But yeah, so carbohydrate, when they have a fair amount of naturally occurring water, fiber, protein, they take time to absorb.
There's not this blood sugar spike. There's no brain reward center activation that goes on. But the things that are dry and crunchy are, are different. They are much more quickly absorbed. So pretty much all the things that are ultra [00:33:00] processed snack foods, they're dry and crunchy and that that's part of it.
JJ Virgin: Yeah, they're dry, crunchy, salty. I would never lose it over a piece of cake. But you've throw me a bucket of popcorn and I, I, I'm down there licking the bottom of it, so, you know, know your things right? Now. You created a quiz, your food hormone symptom quiz. Like, what does someone find out when they take the quiz?
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, so I made the cookbook to where you can just grab recipe and have fun, or you can have a specific goal in mind so you can see which hormone symptoms are most relevant for you at a given point in time, and the quiz will direct you to that. Once you know that you can then be guided through a couple weeks of a meal plan, here's the recipes to really focus on those particular hormones.
And the thing is, you don't have to like get deep into the hormones and the, the blood levels and this, that, or the other. You know how you feel. And that's, that's valid. And that's enough of a starting point.
JJ Virgin: Well, don't you think for Yeah, most people that's probably a better indicator anyway, since your hormones are gonna change an hour after you took your hormones.[00:34:00]
Dr. Alan Christianson: There's so many ins and outs about, yeah, hormone tests, hormone levels. You're better off just knowing, here's the key symptoms, here's some safe things you can do in your kitchen to help them in like 30 minutes or less.
JJ Virgin: Yay. Yeah. No one's gonna say, I got toxic eaten in the kitchen there. You know, eating whole Foods.
That is awesome. And I'm really excited about this cookbook. I am going to put the quiz at Very obvious. So you can go take that there. Also I put information about your book, the Healing Hormone Cookbook. Now I wanna know, so did you write the recipes? Did Kieran write who wrote the recipes and created all this stuff?
Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, that was me.
JJ Virgin: That's really, yeah.
Dr. Alan Christianson: Wow. I got an apron and everything. I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen last few years.
JJ Virgin: Really? Wow. Well, that's what happens when you move out to Minnesota away from all of us. I guess that was your pandemic hobby.
Dr. Alan Christianson: We did a lot of cooking with the pandemic as well.
And just kept on going with it for sure. [00:35:00]
JJ Virgin: Wow. That is very, very impressive. I hope you have a picture of you with your apron on.
Dr. Alan Christianson: I'll produce one for you in short order.
JJ Virgin: Okay, good. I want that. And then with it, I'm gonna put that a low fiber diet is like taking antibiotics every day. That's like… Crazy. All right.
This has been fantastic. Again, I'm gonna put everything at Plus I'll put all of your books, all of our past episodes cause we've got some really good stuff that everyone can dig into. Fun. Fun. And thank you for all of this and hopefully I'll get to see you soon.
Dr. Alan Christianson: I would love that. Yeah.
JJ Virgin: Somewhere not there. Cause it's still cold there. I don't do cold.
Dr. Alan Christianson: It's gonna be beautiful very soon though.
JJ Virgin: Be sure to join me next time for more tools, tips, and techniques you can incorporate into everyday life to ensure you look and feel great, and more importantly that you're built to last. And check me out on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and my website And make sure to follow my podcast so you don't [00:36:00] miss a single episode at
See you next time.

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