If You Want To Delay Menopause…

…The thing to do might be to up your consumption of Fish and Legumes. That’s the latest finding from a team of researchers in the UK who have been data mining the results of a massive lifestyle survey project there to try and identify how genetic, behavioural and environmental factors effect the onset of menopause…

Salmon and Lentils - Hannah Queen via PintrestSalmon and Lentils: Just the supper for you, if you want to delay
the onset of menopause, UK researchers say…

The team’s findings, published recently inĀ  the British Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health show that diet is one of the foremost factors in the timing of menopause onset.

What they did…

The researchers drew on data volunteered by participants in the UK Women’s Cohort Study, involving more than 35,000 women between the ages of 35 and 69 from England, Scotland, and Wales. The women provided information on weight history, physical activity levels, reproductive history, and use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). They also estimated the quantities of 217 foods they ate every day by completing a food frequency questionnaire. Further information on when the women had gone through menopause naturally was gathered four years later.

In all, some 14,000 women provided information at both time points, and the final analysis included the 914 who had gone through the menopause naturally after the age of 40 and before the age of 65. The average of menopause onset was 51.

What they found…

Each additional daily portion of refined carbs — specifically pasta and rice — was associated with reaching the menopause 1.5 years earlier than the average, but each additional portion of oily fish and fresh legumes (eg.- peas, beans) was associated with a delay of more than 3 years. Higher intakes of vitamin B6 and zinc were also associated with later menopause.

Similar results emerged when the analysis looked at particular groups. For example, women who ate meat regularly experienced a delay of almost a year compared to women who reported themselves as vegetarians.

Among those who weren’t vegetarian, upping daily portions of savoury snacks was associated with the arrival of the menopause almost 2 years earlier than average, while higher intake of oily fish and fresh legumes was linked to later menopause of more than 3 and nearly 1.5 years, respectively.

What it all means…

If you want to delay menopause, ditch the salty snacks! Okay, that’s a specious extrapolation. But there are some serious issue to consider, if you are considering delaying or advancing menopause by altering your diet.

Women who go through the menopause early are at increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease, while those who go through it late are at increased risk of breast, womb, and ovarian cancers, so timing matters, say the researchers.

And they conclude: “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.”

My take…

In spite of all the intriguing dietary associations the researchers uncovered with respect to the onset of menopause, it’s probably best just to let it happen, without any attempts at influencing its timing. If you spend your years between 40 and 65 worrying about something like menopause, you’re squandering your life. Just take what comes and count on your personal support group – your family and closest friends – for comfort and understanding. It’s coming, one way or the other, and the study says nothing about whether dietary interventions would make menopause easier or shorter than it would naturally be.

~ Maggie J.

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