Could Changing Your Diet Help Delay the Onset of Menopause?
Recent study points to legumes and fish as key to a later menopause
Over the years, many different studies have explored the relationship between diet and age at menopause. Most recently, researchers from Leeds University have published a study suggesting that a diet high in fish and legumes can help delay the onset of menopause, while a diet high in refined carbs can accelerate it.
The study was based on data collected during The UK Women’s Cohort Study, in which over 14.000 women were surveyed about their diet, reproductive history, and heath. After four years, a follow up survey and questionnaire were sent. By comparing women’s answers on the two surveys, researchers were able to see some relationships between diet and the onset of menopause.
Specifically, they found that each additional average daily serving of legumes correlated with about a year’s delay in the onset of menopause, while each additional average daily serving of oily fish resulted in an average delay of three years. Researchers say the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish, as well as antioxidants in certain legumes and other foods, may be a significant factor in slowing down the ovarian aging processes that trigger menopause.
For each additional average daily portion of rice or pasta, researchers found that women entered menopause about a year and a half earlier. This makes sense given that refined carbohydrates can cause chronic inflammation, which can accelerate the aging process.
So Should You Change Your Diet?
It’s important to understand that because this study was observational in nature rather than a controlled experiment, it doesn’t prove that legumes and oily fish delay menopause; it merely shows a correlation.
However, the fact remains that a diet with more legumes and fish is generally healthier than one with fewer of these foods and more rice and refined grains. So, it probably would be wise to add more legumes like peas, chickpeas, beans, lentils, and soy and more oily fish like salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and fresh tuna to your diet while reducing refined carbs and sugar. This type of dietary change will help support your overall health, even if it does not necessarily affect when you enter menopause.
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