There’s so much research on clinical nutrition out there. And yet, a startling number of people still don’t seem to understand that what you eat plays an enormous role in your overall health.
That said, sometimes even I’m surprised by the latest findings in this field. Case in point: Did you know that your diet can affect the timing of menopause onset? Well, according to one new study, it can — and this discovery is news to me, too.
The average American woman reaches menopause around the age of 51. If your onset occurs earlier than this, your risk of osteoporosis, depression, and heart disease rises.
There are a lot of factors that play into the age you’ll hit menopause. Ultimately, it boils down to a combination of genes, lifestyle, and environment.
But your diet also plays a large part in this equation, as this latest analysis from the UK shows.
Most of the women in this study were upper-middle class and married with children. Only eight percent smoked, and 38 percent were vegetarian. On average, they were moderate drinkers, with a median menopause age of 51.
Results linked a daily portion of oily fish — think salmon, herring, mackerel, or tuna — with a delay in menopause onset of 3.3 years. And a daily portion of fresh legumes — like peas, lentils, or other beans — resulted in a delay of a little less than a year.
Now, as you may know, I’m not crazy about beans — they’re way too high in carbs for daily consumption. But it’s hard to argue with the benefit of high quality fish oils, however you work them into your diet.
Higher intakes of vitamin B6 and zinc were also linked to small but significant delays in menopause onset. But ultimately, these details aren’t the most remarkable parts of the study — at least, not to me anyway.
Because, on the other end of the spectrum, refined pasta and rice were associated with earlier menopause onset. By roughly one-and-a-half years per daily portion consumed. And vegetarian women also experienced an earlier menopause than meat eaters.
How many times have I told you that “the white stuff” will kill you? And as these results demonstrate, the ways in which it does so aren’t always that obvious.
The antioxidant power of omega-3-rich fish oils lower free radical loads and slow ovarian follicle breakdown, in turn delaying menopause. Fill up on refined carbs, though, and you’re setting yourself up for insulin resistance — and the estrogen imbalance that comes with it. The same goes for vegetarianism, where the loss of animal fats can disrupt key hormone levels.
For the millionth time, this is why your doctor should always ask about what you’re eating. Because even menopause-related issues could be effectively managed with a few key dietary changes. And not just overall disease risk, but also symptoms you’d never think to relate to your diet, like vaginal dryness or those dreaded hot flashes.
The bottom line? Making the wrong dietary choices absolutely will speed up your biological clock — and needless to say, nobody needs any extra help in that department.
So if you haven’t already read or bought my A-List Diet book, here’s your regular reminder to pick up a copy today. It’s a small investment. But the payoff will last a lifetime.