Heidi Montag is hoping her unique new diet will help her efforts to conceive a second child — even if the diet might seem cringeworthy and questionable to some people, including health experts.
The reality star said she has been eating raw animal organs lately in an attempt to boost her fertility.
“I love trying new things! I’ve always been very interested in various types of diets,” the 35-year-old told People in a new interview.
The star of "The Hills: New Beginnings" also explained the rationale behind the diet and claimed that it's actually quite healthy.
“When you think about where the most nutrients are that are bio available to humans without toxins,” she said, “organs are very nutritious parts of animals. Culturally organs are a critical part. Eating raw liver is going to preserve as many nutrients as possible.”
Montag, who has a 4-year-old son named Gunner with her husband Spencer Pratt, filmed herself eating raw liver last month and posted a short clip of the moment on her Instagram channel. She was also recently spotted eating raw bison heart while she was out and about in Los Angeles.
The reality star explained that she has been trying to get pregnant for "over a year and a half" and is currently looking to try different things to help her in her fertility journey.
“It’s a great source of nutrients! I have felt incredible on this diet. A lot more energy, clarity, increased libido, and overall improvement on chronic pain I have had," she said.
If you're cringing while reading this, you're probably wondering how Montag can stand the taste of raw organs, but she said she's gotten used to it.
“I have definitely adjusted to the taste. I do like the taste cooked. I mean I love foie gras," she said.
Does eating raw animal organs help with fertility?
Montag seems quite enthusiastic about her new diet, but can raw animal organs actually assist with fertility? TODAY reached out to Samantha Cassetty, RD, a nutrition and wellness expert and co-author of "Sugar Shock," to get some nutritional insight.
“There is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that eating raw animal organs could help you conceive,” she told TODAY via email.
If you are experiencing fertility challenges, reducing your meat consumption and eating a diet rich in whole plant foods (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains), seafood, dairy and soy foods can certainly help.
"This eating style, along with supplemental vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folic acid, has been shown to help improve fertility outcomes," Cassetty said. "Many elements of the ‘pro-fertility’ eating pattern overlap with the Mediterranean diet, which has also been shown to increase the chance that women undergoing fertility treatments will have a successful pregnancy and go on to have a baby."
Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director at NYU Langone Fertility Center and chief executive physician of Inception Fertility, offered up a few other suggestions for fueling your fertility journey.
"There are lifestyle and dietary changes people can make that can help improve their chances of conceiving. Alcohol, for example, can increase the relative risk of infertility by as much as 60%, so we recommend that alcohol consumption be done in moderation, meaning no more than one drink per day," Grifo said, adding that you should also limit your caffeine consumption to one or two servings a day.
Prenatal vitamins can also help. “Be sure to look for all of the B vitamins, vitamin D3, A, C and E plus micronutrients like copper, chromium, borium, magnesium folic acid and zinc," Grifo added.
Is it even safe to eat raw animal organs?
Cassetty cautioned that Montag's new diet could be potentially harmful — for several reasons.
"Cooking meat to a proper internal temperature is a kill step to destroy potentially harmful pathogens. These pathogens can include E. coli, salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. Pathogens are sometimes found in the animal’s intestines, and they can contaminate other parts of the animal during slaughtering," she said.
The nutrition expert acknowledged that organ meat is indeed rich in nutrients but cautioned that unless Montag was already deficient in nutrients like zinc, she likely wouldn't notice a benefit.
Cassetty explained that if Montag was eating a heavily processed diet and then switched to a diet that included more whole foods, it could help her feel more energetic. "However, it’s not necessary to eat organ meat — or any meat — to get all of the nutrients you need to bolster energy and libido or lower inflammation and improve chronic pain," she explained.
Why is it OK to eat raw sushi and not raw animal organs?
Many people enjoy eating raw sushi, so you might be wondering: what makes that OK while eating raw meat is a no-go? According to Cassetty, it's all about the particular types of bacteria in each delicacy.
"The organisms that might be inhabiting raw meat are more likely to be harmful than those inhabiting raw sushi. Plus, the parasites that might be inhabiting raw fish are usually destroyed when frozen, and most of the fish prepared as sushi has been frozen before it’s consumed," she said, adding that there's always a slight risk to eating sushi or raw oysters.