Can certain food groups manipulate the start of menopause?

Can certain food groups manipulate the start of menopause?
A diet of higher quantities of refined pasta showed menopause was likely to occur one and a half years earlier than average

A new UK study has found a link between diet and the menopause, meaning certain food groups could affect the age at which the condition begins.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Leeds, UK, have studied the links between diet and the onset of menopause in British women.

It was found that a higher intake of healthier foods, including oily fish and fresh legumes like peas and green beans, was linked to a later onset of the menopause. Foods that were found to make the condition start early were high consumption of refined white pasta and rice.

The average age for UK women to start the phase is 51 years, and there are 13 million women in the UK going through or in the menopause.

Assessing the diets of women

For the study, researchers used data from over 14,150 women living in the UK, which included a detailed diet questionnaire and an initial survey that collected information on reproductive history and health.

After a follow-up survey and questionnaire four years later, researchers were then able to assess the diets of the women who’d experienced the onset of natural menopause during that period.

Over 900 women between 40 and 65 years of age experienced a natural start of their end of their menstrual cycle at the time of the survey, which meant they did not have menstrual periods for at least 12 months.

The analysis of their diet showed high intakes of oily fish were associated with a delayed start by nearly three years.

A diet comprising higher quantities of refined past and rice showed menopause was likely to occur one and a half years earlier than average.

Diet implications

Lead author of the study Yashvee Dunneram, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds, said: “There are a number of causes that have been considered for the relationship between age and start of menopause, such as genetic factors or behavioural and environmental exposures.

“This study is the first to investigate the links between individual nutrients and a wide variety of food groups and age at natural menopause in a large cohort of British women.”

‘Serious health implications’

Janet Cade, study co-author and professor of nutritional epidemiology and public health at the School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “The age at which menopause begins can have serious health implications for some women.

“A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause will be very beneficial to those who may already be at risk or have a family history of certain complications related to menopause.”

Source: University of Leeds

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