May 2, 2018

Foods That May Hasten Menopause

Some time back, I had shared how being underweight is a risk factor for early menopause. Besides body weight, the food that you eat also determines when you will enter menopause, a new research (1) has found.

woman worried about early menopause

In a study spanning 4 years, researchers have found that menopause tended to start earlier among those whose diets were heavy in refined carbs. Eating lots of refined carbohydrates -- such as pasta and rice was found to hasten the onset of menopause by 1.5 years.

On the other hand, a higher consumption of oily fish was found to delay the timing of natural menopause by approximately three years; a diet high in legumes, which includes peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas, delayed menopause by round an year, on average. Higher daily intake of both vitamin B6 and zinc was similarly linked to delayed menopause.

Dunneram, a researcher at the University of Leeds, in England says that link between consumption of refined carbs and early menopause remains unclear but speculates that it may have to do with the way certain foods affect hormones.

"Refined carbohydrates are one of the main culprits for insulin resistance. A high level of circulating insulin could interfere with sex hormone activity and boost estrogen levels, both of which might increase the number of menstrual cycles and deplete egg supply faster, thus causing an earlier menopause. Legumes contain antioxidants, which may preserve menstruation for longer. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are in oily fish, also stimulate antioxidant capacity in the body" explains Dunneram.

The investigators also found that vegetarian women experienced menopause about a year earlier than meat-eaters. The study team noted that the high-fiber/low-animal fat content in vegetarian meals has previously been linked to low estrogen levels. But meat-eaters who ate higher daily amounts of savory foods -- such as potato chips, pretzels and peanuts -- experienced menopause about two years earlier than otherwise.

The researchers hasten to add that age of menopause is mostly genetically driven and diet is just one factor. Diet alone can account for the age of the onset of the menopause; there are far too many factors involved, says Prof. Saffron Whitehead at St George's University of London and Society for Endocrinology (2). Food, possibly has an an impact on menopause timing but not much can be concluded from this  study and hence women need not feel alarmed and make drastic changes in their diet.



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