Eating lots of pasta and rice was associated with reaching menopause one-and-a-half years earlier than the average age of women in the United Kingdom of 51.
But women who often ate refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white rice typically reached the menopause around 18 months sooner than the average age of 51, the study found.
Past research shows early menopause increases the risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. And on average, meat eaters experienced menopause more than a year later than vegetarians. Higher intake of vitamin B6 and zinc were also associated with later menopause.
Study co-author Janet Cade, professor of nutritional epidemiology and public health at the University of Leeds' School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: "A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause will be very beneficial to those who may already be at risk or have a family history of certain complications related to menopause". About 14,000 women responded at both time points, and of those, 914 reported that they had gone through natural menopause during that four year period, when they were between ages 40 and 65.
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Research by the University of Leeds has examined the links between diet and the onset of menopause in British women. The menopause can be a trying time for many women-but for some it can have serious health implications. The researchers have suggested antioxidants may preserve menstruation for longer by impacting the release of eggs.
The researchers explained that women with earlier menopause spend more years deprived of the benefits of estrogen compared with their counterparts who became menopausal around the normal age range. Green beans and peas contain antioxidants, while omega 3 fatty acids, which are abundant in oily fish, also stimulate antioxidant activity in the body.
The findings were published online April 30 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
The women provided information on potentially influential factors such as weight history, physical activity levels, and reproductive history. Meanwhile, because heightened carb consumption increases the risk of insulin resistance, menstrual cycles could be affected due to increased oestrogen and altered hormone levels.
Previous studies have shown that diet may influence menopause, but results from different studies had contradictory findings, Dunneram told Live Science. Unfortunately, a big limitation of these observational studies, is their inability to prove that dietary behaviour actually causes early menopause.