Carbohydrates have been linked to bringing on menopause as early as 18 months before the average menopausal age of 51 years among women in the UK. Oily fish, beans, and peas, on the other hand, seem to delay menopause according to a study done by the University of Leeds with 914 women
Other research suggests that more than diet, there are other factors such as genes that could determine the age an average woman goes through menopause. But findings from a new study suggest that there might be a direct link between your food choices and menopause.
The food link
According to a study published in the the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, women who consumed a diet rich in legumes such chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas seemed to have their menopause delayed by 1.5 years. On the other hand, women who consumed a diet rich in simple carbohydrates such as pasta and rice seemed to bring on their menopause 1.5 years earlier.
While the observational study, accounted for other factors such as body mass index, use of hormone replacement therapy and reproductive history, it was not able to study the impact of genetic factors nor prove a direct link.
The study attributes the impact of the two diets to antioxidants and insulin. Antioxidants found in legumes delay menopause. High estrogen levels, triggered by insulin resistance due to a prolonged high carb diet, increase the number of menstrual cycles. This means that women will run out of their egg supply faster.
Why the age of menopause matters?
The age at which a woman goes into menopause has serious health consequences. Early onset menopause predisposes women to Osteoporosis, while a late onset increases a woman risk of cancers such as those of the breast, ovary, and uterus. Co-author Janet Cade, Professor of nutritional epidemiology, says that understanding the association between diet and onset of menopause is, therefore, of paramount importance.
Kathy Abernethy, chairwoman of the British Menopause Society, said that the study has contributed to our knowledge about earlier onset menopause.
Researchers and epidemiologists at St George’s University of London and Imperial College concluded that observational studies like these do not have the capacity to establish a link. More rigorous scientific studies need to be conducted to get a conclusive proof to persuade women to bring about a dramatic shift in the way they eat.