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Food & diet

Can diet influence the age of menopause?

July 18, 2018

There may be a correlation between followed nutrition and the age at which a woman enters menopause. To emphasize the possible connection between these two aspects was an English study, which, however, would not have highlighted yet what link there would be between the essential physiological appointment of women and diet. On the other hand, it is well known that going through menopause too early increases the risk of coronary heart disease and bone fragility, just as going too late increases the risk of breast cancer. An early menopause also accentuates cognitive decline. We talk about this topic with Dr. Francesca Albani, dietitian of Humanitas.


What is the right age to enter menopause?


Going through menopause too early, i.e. before the age of 50, is not without risks. On the other hand, even a late menopause occurring after the age of 55 is not free of health problems and has a double chance of developing breast tumors. What role does diet play in determining the age at which a woman will enter menopause? In the extensive English research carried out on a sample of 14 thousand women aged between 35 and 69 years, it was possible to verify all the data useful for the study only on one thousand participants. According to the researchers an interesting number to draw conclusions. Analysis of these data showed that women who habitually consumed fatty fish such as trout, sardine or herring, but also vegetables and legumes (and for this reason could count on a good intake of zinc and vitamin B6) had menopause on average three years later than the others.


“The average age of menopause is between 45 and 55 years – Dr. Albani explained – Several factors have been involved in the appearance of this important phase of life. There is an early menopause, for example, that affects a small percentage of women, due to genetic factors. There are also other external factors that may anticipate its appearance such as chromosomal abnormalities, certain types of pharmacological or chemotherapeutic treatments, certain specific clinical conditions, such as endometriosis”.

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What foods can influence the age of menopause?


Women who had a diet rich in refined foods went on average into menopause a year and a half earlier than the others, as well as vegetarians, while the consumption of grapes and poultry seems to be able to slow down the arrival of menopause for women who have not had children.


In general, the scientific literature available today suggests that foods rich in antioxidants should be brought to the table. Diet alone, however, is not enough to counteract the metabolic problems of the menopause: constant physical activity, combined with vitamin D supplementation, has shown important effects on the immune system, which can only be beneficial to a woman’s general health.


“Feeding properly and not missing any kind of nutrient is important to get prepared at this time, which is characterized, in most cases, by a weight gain and a different distribution of body fat, localized especially in the abdomen – concluded Albani – Certainly a diet that includes the intake of so-called “anti-inflammatory” foods, therefore rich in omega 3, such as those mentioned by the study can be an excellent indication that lays the foundations for the setting of a healthier eating style even after menopause.


Sugar and refined foods induce a state of inflammation in our body so it is always good to control its consumption.


The advice I would give to my patients is to treat the composition of the meal and divide the dish into 3 parts: the largest slice will be occupied by vegetables and greens, trying to vary as much as possible, another portion should be occupied by protein, trying to increase the consumption of fish, especially fish and salmon and legumes, control the consumption of lean white meat and eggs, limit the stored meat and fatty cheese by choosing the leanest and taking care to rotate them during the week. The last portion of the dish should include cereals, especially whole grains, choosing for example whole meal pasta and rice, barley, spelt, millet, and rye bread.


Combine a “healthy” lifestyle with smoking cessation and daily motor activity.

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