Diet can affect the age at which a woman experiences menopause, according to a study from the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. A diet high in carbohydrates like pasta and rice is associated with early menopause – 1.5 years earlier than the average age of 51 – while a diet high in fish and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas) can delay natural menopause by about the same length of time.
The observational study involved 914 women, and, according to the researchers, diet is just one of many factors that determine when a woman experiences menopause. Genetics, reproductive history, and weight also play an important role in the natural decline in reproductive hormones that results in the end of menstrual periods.
The researchers offer some possible reasons for their findings, including the antioxidant properties of oily fish (omega-3 fatty acids) and legumes, and the insulin resistance produced by refined carbohydrates, which can boost estrogen levels. The age of menopause can have health implications for some women.