Researchers at Leeds University in the United Kingdom suggests that a diet rich in legumes and fish may delay the natural process of menopause, while foods rich in carbohydrates may fast-track it.
The age at which a person experiences their menopause can influence their health in many ways. In addition to infertility, premature menopause – described as menopause before 40, can bring with it numerous complications.
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Some of the consequences of premature or early menopause includes:
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Loss of bone density
- Loss of sexual desire
Experiencing one’s menopause at a later age, on the other hand, might have some health benefits. A recent study suggested that a later menopause might help prevent cognitive decline in older women.
This is what prompted Yashvee Dunneram, who is a researcher at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and colleagues to conduct a study on the relationship between diet and menopause onset.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Studying diet and menopause onset
Dunneram and the team of researchers examined the data available from the UK Women’s Cohort Study — a survey of over 35,000 British-based women aged between 35 and 69.
The scientists also included information on potential confounding factors such as weight and reproductive history, physical activity levels, and hormone replacement therapy use.
Using the data drawn from food frequency questionnaires, the researchers were able to estimate the daily consumption of 217 food items that the participants ate.
Of all the women, 914 experienced menopause naturally between the ages of 40 and 65.
How carbs, fish, legumes affect menopause
The age at which the women got their menopause on average was 51, and the study discovered that certain food items were linked with the menopause onset.
Each portion of carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, consumed daily related with experiencing menopause 1.5 years earlier. By contrast, for each daily portion of fish and fresh legumes, such as peas and beans, the delay in menopause onset was of over 3 years. Also, a higher daily consumption of vitamin B-6 and zinc was also associated with later menopause.
When comparing vegetarians with meat eaters, the team discovered that eating meat was linked with a 1-year delay in menopause onset. Among women who had not had any children, a higher consumption of grapes and poultry was connected with later menopause.
According to Dunneram and her colleagues:
“Our findings confirm that diet may be associated with the age at natural menopause. This may be relevant at a public health level since age at natural menopause may have implications on future health outcomes.”