When recounting your daily activities to your friends, how often do you end with, “and then I ate a raw bison heart?” Well, chomping on raw bison heart meat is what reality TV personality, singer, and actress Heidi Montag was seen doing in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday.
The following tweet from Page Six included photos of her and her unusual snack:
It’s not every day that you see a person eating a raw bison heart out of a Ziploc bag. Why then was the 35-year old star of the MTV reality series The Hills having such a snack? Did she find it in her Happy Meal? Did she order Buffalo wings and get served a raw bison heart by mistake? Was this the replacement when they ran out of hot dogs? Was this the second place prize for the new car raffle?
Not exactly. According to Dan Heching writing for PEOPLE, Montag got the idea from the so-called “carnivore diet” that’s being promoted by Paul Saladino, MD. Saladino’s LinkedIn profile describes him as a “A proud tribesman of the growing carnivore community” and “Host of the Fundamental Health podcast.” It shows that he received his medical degree from the University of Arizona in 2015 and served as a psychiatry resident at the University of Washington from 2015 through 2019,
So why did Montag choose this diet in particular? Heching quoted Montag as saying, “When you think about where the most nutrients are that are bio available to humans without toxins. 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.”
Apparently Montag has been using this diet to get pregnant. According to Heching, Montag explained, “I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half, I’m willing to try different things. 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.” So is this basically saying that you can increase your libido and get pregnant by putting more meat in your mouth?
This wasn’t the first time Montag has been seen eating raw animal meat. She’s posted Instagram videos of herself eating raw liver and bull’s testicles, which can be seen in the following Access Hollywood video:
OK, an all-meat diet may be better than an all-cookie diet or an all paper clip diet. Meat tends to be high in protein and rich in nutrients such as iodine, iron, zinc, vitamins such as B12, and essential fatty acids. Unless you are drenching your serving of liver in molasses or placing bull’s testicles on your cereal, an all-meat diet is not going to be super high in sugar or simple carbohydrates.
Then there’s the sex thing. Some of the nutrients in meat such as carnitine, L-arginine, and zinc may help with blood flow. And blood flow to your genitals is a good thing for sex. It isn’t a complement to tell someone, “seeing you really diverts blood away from my genitals.”
At the same time, animal meat can be quite high in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol, three things that are not good to have in excess. You’d also be missing the fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and other nutrients that fruits and vegetables can provide. Plus, too much protein can overwhelm the kidneys when they already aren’t functioning well. And meats aren’t the only food products that can provide you nutrients that could enhance your sex life. In other words, you don’t have to eat animal products to necessarily be an animal in bed.
Although proponents of eating nothing but meat may make claims about the benefits of such diets, there is a dearth of scientific evidence supporting their use. And scientific evidence doesn’t mean getting testimonials from people. It doesn’t mean study data that has not yet been published in a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal. It also doesn’t mean relying solely on short-term studies that lasted less than a few years. While a diet may seem safe and effective over a short period of time, it’s important to know what its longer term effects may be.
In general, beware of any diet that focuses too heavily on one food group. There is no perfect food item that can offer you everything that you need. Instead, the key to a healthy diet is balance, eating a variety of foods to give you the proper range of nutrients.
So an all-meat diet may not be great even when you cook the meat. When you don’t bother to cook the meat, things can get even more raw, so to speak. Raw meat brings a whole new set of risks. Raw meat can harbor all sorts of bad bacteria such as Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter and even parasites. Humans invented cooking for a reason. It wasn’t just to have all those cooking shows or make use of all those pots and pans laying around in the kitchen. Cooking is supposed to kill or at least inactivate disease-causing microbes that may be present in meat.
In the following Mayo Clinic video, infectious disease specialist Pritish Tosh, MD, indicated that the majority of foodborne illnesses in your kitchen result from cross-contamination from raw meat:
Now, the PEOPLE article did quote Montag as equating the risk of eating other types of raw meat with the risk of “eating raw sushi,” emphasizing that, “I just happen to like eating sushi-style organs.”
Hmmm, eating other types of raw meat is not necessarily the same as eating raw sushi. First of all, there are established procedures for preparing sushi. You typically should only eat sushi using fish that’s been properly caught, cleaned, stored, and handled. Don’t eat a piece of sushi when the chef tells you, “hey I caught this fish in the Hudson River right next to a floating toilet plunger about an hour ago. Enjoy.” It’s not clear whether the same type of safety procedures and safeguards that have been used for sushi are in place for other less commonly consumed raw meats such as bull’s testicles. For example, putting “bull testicles” into Yelp may yield some businesses relevant to bulls or to testicles but not so much those words combined. While the hotel concierge may be able to help you find a good sushi restaurant in a neighborhood, finding a “raw bull testicle” restaurant may be much more difficult.
Secondly, not all raw meat may be as easy to clean as raw fish. Different types of meat can be shaped differently with different configurations. As you probably know, all body parts are not the same either. That’s why you don’t usually wear your underwear on your head. So ultimately it’s not really fair to assume that eating other raw meats is the same as eating raw sushi.
At this point, there’s not enough real scientific evidence to support many of the claimed benefits about a raw organ meat diet. In fact, getting a food-borne illness from consuming raw meat could be quite a raw deal.