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The spicy secret to looking 20 years younger

When she was in her twenties Tonia Buxton was the face of health, she took part in natural bodybuilding competitions and would train for triathlons. Now at 50 Tonia is obsessed with looking good, and often gets mistaken for someone two decades younger. Her secret? Look at the back of your kitchen cupboards!

Tonia explains why daily doses of turmeric, mint, parsley and other herbs and spices can combat the menopause, help you sleep, improve your mood and even add a supercharge to your sex life!

How herbs and spices can change your life

Stay youthful

Tonia says: As we age, our body gets more inflamed which can cause aches and pains. Anti-oxidants in the body are one of the strongest readers of being youthful. Spices such as turmeric, with the additions of garlic and olive oil, are all anti-inflammatory which is key to not only looking young physically, but having internal benefits. "As well as turmeric, chilli is also an anti-oxidant and maintains the skin's elasticity and shine. My favourite thing to do is to make my anti oxidant muffins with turmeric and black pepper - they are so tasty and good for you. Have that with some milk and turmeric to drink and you have an anti-inflammatory, pro-ageing treat."

Spice up your sex life

Supporting your libido can be easily done by having a healthy diet, as you are more likely to be 'in the mood' if you are feeling well and energised. Spices such as garlic, cardamom, ginger and cumin can be used to aid libido. "Spices get everything going and the blood flowing which supports libido. Garlic is so good for libido that Tibetan monks banned it at one stage for adolescents and unmarried women because it causes desire and is responsible for increasing sexual appetite. Cumin is also high in zinc which aids sperm production. Whatever spices that get the blood flowing are also the ones that will get you in the mood."

Boost your mood

Tonia believes that adding herbs and spices such as basil, cacao and mint to your diet can balance your serotonin levels, which is a major factor in decreasing feelings of depression. "Cacao is a natural antidepressant as it helps the neurotransmitters and fluid flow better. Have raw cacao with milk at night and it will alleviate stress and aid for a better sleep. There was also a study which had students smell mint before exams. The results showed that it reduced their stress, lifted their mood and helped with their cognitive function."

Sleep better

The Sleep Council UK's latest study showed that COVID-19 was having a detrimental effect on adults and children's sleep schedules. But, there are natural ways to get your sleep back on track: "Chamomile is amazing for sleep, even just a mug of chamomile tea. Rosemary also has a direct impact on sleep as it reduces stress - add some nutmeg for relaxation and you will really start to see the benefits of a blissful sleep."

Reduce menopause symptoms

Women are now looking to find alternative, natural ways to reduce the symptoms of menopause and even postpone it. "Sage is known to regulate menopause hormones. The spices that alleviate stress are also key. It's all about calming and regulating so chamomile is also great for menopause symptoms."

Aid digestion

Tonia believes that digestion is one of the most important things we can use spices for because it links to the rest of our physical health. "Our tummies are linked to our gut biome which is like another brain in many ways. Mastika is a great herbal supplement you can take to aid with digestion. It is so strong that it's even been known to reduce stomach ulcers. Fennel is also really good at aiding digestion too."

Brain health

As well as feeling or looking younger, spices also have the power to keep our brain healthy and functioning well. "Sage is lovely with lots of things. Some people just think of sage and onion stuffing but I make a great carrot and sage soup. The spice is just full of positive effects including skin health, memory retention, concentration and neuro functioning. Cinnamon is also great for our neuro pathways as it keeps the brain active. Also, rosemary prevents liquid build up in our amyloid plaques which cause Alzheimer's and dementia, and it's delicious so it's a win-win."

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