Menopause is a testing phase for every woman, especially when it happens earlier than expected. The fluctuating hormonal changes – including hot flashes and vaginal dryness, sleep disturbances and sometimes even anxiety and depression – can take a toll on them. Many doctors have admitted to receiving queries from women nearing their menopausal phase asking them whether their reproductivity can be prolonged. Researchers, by way of a new study, do have the answer to that. According to the study, a single daily serving of vegetable protein from foods such as whole grains, soy and tofu may may do the trick. It may protect women from early menopause and could prolong their reproductive function.
Early menopause – the cessation of ovarian function before age 45 – affects about 10 percent of women globally and is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and early cognitive decline. The study, appearing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that women consuming approximately 6.5 percent of their daily calories as vegetable protein had a significant 16 percent lower risk of early menopause compared to women whose intake was approximately four percent. For a woman with a 2,000 calorie per day diet, this was equal to three to four servings of such foods as enriched pasta, breakfast cereal, tofu and nuts, or about 32.5 grams a day, the researchers explained. However, no similar relation to eating animal sources of protein was observed. “A better understanding of how dietary vegetable protein intake is associated with ovarian ageing may identify ways for women to modify their risk of early onset menopause and associated health conditions,” said lead author Maegan Boutot from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. For the study, the team evaluated the relationship between diet and risk of early menopause among 116,000 women aged 25-42 years.