Over the past decade, manufacturers have released hundreds of functional drinks to address a myriad of health concerns. As a result, they are the fastest growing segment of the food industry.

A grape soda that improves your gastrointestinal health? Sparkling refreshers that can help you stay alert or improve your sleep? These are just a few of the latest functional drinks designed with plants, beneficial bacteria and other bioactive compounds to improve your health or address your specific health or nutritional concerns.

Functional drinks are beverages that contain wellness-focused ingredients such as CBD, adaptogens, and nootropics. They may provide health benefits beyond their basic nutritional value. Coffee and tea can be considered the original functional beverages due to their many beneficial compounds that provide heart, gastrointestinal and brain health properties.

Over the past decade, manufacturers have released hundreds of functional drinks to address a myriad of health concerns. As a result, they are the fastest growing segment of the food industry. You can find drinks that claim to improve digestion, immunity, mental acuity, relaxation, sleep, and physical performance.

Here are some of the latest functional drinks designed to improve your health, sip by sip. We will examine which are the best and have evidence to support their claims.

[Read: Top Fermented Foods for Gut Health.]

Best Drinks for Gut Health

If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, heartburn, bloating, or just want to make sure you’re getting more beneficial bacteria to boost your microbiome, look for a probiotic drink, like these options.

fermented kefir

Like yogurt, traditional kefir is made by fermenting milk (cow’s, goat’s, or even non-dairy beverages) with kefir grains. Kefir grains are known to contain over 60 different strains of bacteria. According to published review articles on kefir, researchers report that the unique fermented drink offers a wide variety of potential health benefits, including reducing inflammation and possessing anti-cancer, lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, improving mood, muscle recovery and other health benefits. benefits.

You can find a variety of traditional dairy-based kefirs in any supermarket, but now there are also juice-based kefir drinks. Kevita Probiotic Refresher fizzy drink is a kefir drink that provides billions of live probiotics, and each bottle contains only 10 calories.

Alternatives to prebiotic sodas

Another new option in the gastrointestinal health category includes low-sugar prebiotic alternatives. These carbonated options are designed to deliver prebiotic fiber and botanicals to support gut health, combined with the taste and drinking experience of a classic soda. One of my favorites in this category is OLIPOP, due to its refreshing flavors like vintage cola, classic root beer, and classic grape. I love its low sugar and high prebiotics, but it’s become a cult favorite for its refreshing taste and fun flavors. A can of regular soda contains about 150 calories and 49 grams of sugar (about 10 teaspoons), while a 12-ounce can of OLIPOP contains 2-5 grams of sugar (less than a teaspoon) and 35 to 45 calories. The prebiotic feeds the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract.

[SEE: 6 Worst Foods for Gut Health.]

Keto Drinks for Brain Health

Another specialty drink includes ketone drinks. Ketones are an alternate fuel source for the brain, muscles, and all bodily functions when dietary carbohydrates and carbohydrate storage are depleted. They are produced by the liver when fat is used as an alternate fuel source when carbohydrate intake is low or depleted, such as when a person is on a very low carbohydrate ketogenic diet. Ketones cross the blood-brain barrier to provide efficient fuel to the brain and may aid recovery after a concussion, possibly by reducing oxidative stress and mediating the inflammatory process, says Richard Bloomer, dean of the College of Life Sciences. Health and the R. Brad Martin Student Wellness Center at the University of Memphis.

In the event of a concussion, there is a cascade of events that negatively impact glucose metabolism, causing the brain to obtain insufficient glucose for its energy source, studies have shown. The medical term is cerebral energy deficiency, and it can slow recovery from brain injury because the brain depends on an adequate supply of glucose as its preferred source of energy.

Although the exact dosage and duration of ketone intake remains unknown, as well as the impact of ketones on people of different ages and genders, ingesting a ketone drink every 3-4 hours in the goal of maintaining high levels of ketones in the blood during the two to three post-concussion period can aid in the recovery process. It’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before beginning any post-concussion plan, advises Bloomer.

According to a study published in Frontiers in Neurology, exogenous ketones may help combat brain energy deficits associated with traumatic brain injury. Although more research is needed to understand the exact dosage and timing, the authors believe that exogenous ketones are clinically useful. Tecton is an example of an exogenous ketone hydration drink, which provides 10 grams of ketones and 50 calories per 12-ounce serving. It is also carb and sugar free.

[READ: Best Foods for Your Brain]

Drinks for relaxation and sleep improvement

There are several drink options to promote relaxation and more restful sleep. They often contain sleep-promoting herbs and nutrients including ashwagandha, cherry juice, valerian, melatonin, chamomile, L-theanine, lavender, and lemon balm that have been shown in studies to help promote restful sleep.

What to look for? Your local beverage aisle will feature several new beverages featuring these soothing botanicals. To find the best, look for a caffeine-free and low-sugar or sugar-free option like Blue Bear and NeuroSleep.

Infused hot milk

If you’ve ever heard of drinking a warm glass of milk before bed, there’s a good reason, says Patricia Bannan, author of “From Burnout to Balance.” It’s nature’s relaxing drink. Milk contains many natural compounds that help people relax and promote sleep, including tryptophan, melatonin, magnesium, and calcium. If you prefer a plant-based milk, almond milk or oat milk are good options as they also contain melatonin and tryptophan-producing magnesium to help you relax.

Bannan has created a Calming Vanilla Lavender Latte recipe that can be made with plain or plant-based milk, lavender buds, unrefined coconut oil, vanilla and optional whole cashews. The recipe is caffeine-free, and research suggests a compound in lavender called linalool may play a role in reducing anxiety.

Nature’s natural wellness drink

Infused water for overall health

When it comes to your overall health and well-being, don’t forget about nature’s ultimate moisturizer for health: water. It’s often the best choice for optimal hydration and for keeping your body and immune system functioning properly, Bannan concludes. For a natural flavor enhancement and nutrient boost, try infusing water with citrus, mint, berry or cucumber slices. Herbal flavor boosters also provide hundreds of beneficial bioactive compounds that can improve your overall health and well-being.

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