New research led by scientists suggests that a diet rich in legumes and fish may put off the natural onset of menopause, while foods rich in carbohydrates may accelerate it.
The new study carried out by Yashvee Dunneram, a researcher at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, and colleagues to conduct sought to find the link between diet and menopause onset.
Dunneram, and colleagues examined the data available from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, a survey of over 35,000 British-based women aged between 35 and 69.
The study which was published in in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found out that women who consumed a portion of fish and fresh legumes, such as peas and beans daily had an over 3 years delay in menopause onset.
In addition, a higher daily consumption of vitamin B-6 and zinc was also associated with later menopause.
On the other hand, women who consumed a portion of carbohydrates such as pasta and rice per day experienced menopause 1.5 years earlier.
By contrast, when comparing vegetarians with meat eaters, the researchers found that eating meat was linked with a 1-year delay in menopause onset.
Among women who had not had any children, a higher intake of grapes and poultry was linked with later menopause.
“Our findings confirm that diet may be associated with the age at natural menopause. This may be relevant at a public health level since age at natural menopause may have implications on future health outcomes,” the research team concluded.
The scientists speculate on some potential mechanisms behind the associations that they found.
The team further explained that reactive oxygen species, which are free radicals, or oxygen containing molecules believed to damage the DNA are responsible for this.
The maturation of eggs and their release are affected negatively by reactive oxygen species.
But legumes contain antioxidants, which might counter these negative effects and delay the onset of menopause, says the team.
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Also, omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in oily fish, are thought to trigger antioxidant activity within the human body.
By contrast, refined carbs are thought to be a risk factor for insulin resistance, which, in turn, may increase estrogen production, leading to an early menopause onset.