Eating certain kinds of food may help stave off or hasten the onset of menopause, a new study states.
Fresh legumes, such as peas and green beans, and oily fish like salmon, sardines or mackerel, may be associated with a delay in menopause starting. However, eating refined carbs like rice and pasta may result in an earlier onset, Live Science reports.
The study only found a link between diet and menopause timing, but didn’t focus on what mechanisms would possibly enable a woman’s eating habits to impact her menopause. It’s not also clear if prolonging the onset of menopause is a positive thing. While early menopause is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, depression and bone degeneration, it also protects women against some forms of cancer, including ovarian, breast, and endometrial.
Yashvee Dunneram, a doctoral student in the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in England and lead author on the study, said,
As such, we cannot really recommend women to consume these specific foods to influence their onset of natural menopause.
Previous research has shown that diet has an influence on menopause, but there have been contradictory findings, Dunnerman said. She used survey data from the United Kingdom’s Women’s Cohort Study to take a closer look at the eating habits of women before they reached menopause. This information was compared to the women’s actual age of menopause, making the study more reliable.
The researchers examined data collected from over 35,000 women between the ages of 35 and 69 from England, Scotland and Wales. The women answered questions regarding diet, weight history, reproductive history, exercise levels and using hormone replacement therapy.
Four years later, the researchers asked the women again what age they reached menopause. On average, the women reached menopause at the age of 51. Each additional serving of oily fish, like trout or herring, was linked to a delay of menopause of around three years, and each additional portion of fresh legumes each day amounted to a delay of about a year, the researchers found. An overall increase in intake of vitamin B6 and zinc from food intake was also linked to later menopause onset.
In contrast, each additional serving of refined carbs was associated with a year-and-a-half earlier menopause.
The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.