Dr. Chad Hill owns and operates the Siloam Springs Women’s Center, where he practices as an obstetrician and gynecologist. Experienced in treating women of all ages, Dr. Chad Hill frequently helps patients to navigate the process of menopause.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers from the United Kingdom found that certain foods may delay or hasten the onset of menopause. The researchers examined survey data from more than 35,000 women across the United Kingdom. Researchers asked the women, all aged 35 to 69, about diet and other factors that may influence menopause.
Four years after the initial survey, the researchers contacted the women and found that 914 total respondents had undergone menopause during the intervening time. These women were aged 40 to 65, and the average age of menopause in the cohort was 51.
Researchers examined the initial lifestyle responses of these women and found that for each additional portion per day of fresh legumes, such as beans or peas, a woman started menopause 12 to 18 months later than her counterparts, while additional daily portions of oily fish delayed menopause onset by approximately three years per portion. Conversely, extra daily portions of refined rice or pasta correlated with an earlier menopause onset of about 18 months.
Study authors believe that legumes and oily fish may delay menopause because of a high concentration of antioxidants, which may help a woman to continue menstruating. Meanwhile, refined carbohydrates increase a patient’s risk of insulin resistance, which can increase the amounts of estrogen in the body and hasten the rate at which the body releases eggs.
Researchers emphasize that although these findings suggest a potential correlation between diet and menopause onset, there is not enough evidence to suggest causation or to change dietary recommendations for women. However, the data does add to the growing body of knowledge surrounding why women start menopause at earlier or later ages.