There are plenty of options out there when it comes to liquid refreshment. But while it doesn’t take anything more complicated than plain old tap water to keep you hydrated, the newest beverages aren’t content to stop there. Functional beverages are drinks with a little something extra included — designed to protect your skin, boost your brainpower, reduce inflammation or help you get a better night’s sleep. The idea behind them is simple (to help you get more out of every sip), but the formulations are complex blends of vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and more.
“Functional drinks are popular now because we all recognize the need to get more from what we take in, in order to be all that we can be,” says Bankole Johnson, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland and the mastermind behind the Kolé line of tonics to improve cognitive function. The key, he says, is to make sure there is solid science behind your drink and that it’s not just “sugar water with a splash of vitamins.”
Here are a few worth checking out:
Temple Turmeric: Curcumin, one of the active compounds found in the spice turmeric, has been shown in numerous studies to effectively reduce inflammation — which could make it protective against diseases like certain cancers and Alzheimer’s. Each of the drinks in this line contains from 5,000 to 13,000 milligrams of potent turmeric, along with synergistic ingredients like honey, ginger and cayenne.
UVO: Developed by a dermatologist, this “sun protective” drink is packed with skin-protecting antioxidant vitamins as well as niacin, folate, biotin, zinc and selenium. The idea is that the drinkable version would add supplemental protection to topical sunscreen, helping fend off free radical damage and keep skin safer in the sun.
Kolé Life Foods: This new line of brain-boosting tonics includes four products — Dreams (for better sleep), Inspire (for mental focus), Ignite (for sexual performance) and Happy (to enhance mood). Created by Dr. Johnson, they each contain potent blends of amino acids, nootropics and vitamins designed to enhance cognitive function.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.