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What Scientific Research Reveals About the Ingredients in Functional Beverages

The burgeoning market of functional beverages, touted for their purported mental and physical benefits beyond mere hydration, has seen a surge in popularity globally. With hundreds of companies entering the fray, incorporating trendy and sometimes unfamiliar ingredients, it’s crucial to examine the latest additions to these beverages and discern what scientific research reveals about their efficacy.


These are plants and mushrooms purported to aid the body in responding to stress, anxiety, fatigue, and enhance overall well-being. Examples include American and Asian ginseng, ashwagandha, eleuthero, Rhodiola rosea, and chaga mushroom.

Scientific Perspective

According to the Cleveland Clinic, adaptogens trigger chemical reactions that help restore the body to a balanced state. While side effects are rare, their efficacy tends to diminish over time, especially with prolonged use exceeding six months.


Also known as “smart drugs,” these substances are claimed to improve cognitive functions such as thinking, learning, and memory. Common examples include caffeine, L-theanine, creatine, Bacopa monnieri, Ginkgo biloba, and lion’s mane mushroom. Some adaptogens, like ashwagandha, may also possess nootropic properties.

Scientific Perspective

Research, as reported in the journal Plants, suggests that plant-based nootropics typically require prolonged use before measurable improvements in cognitive function are observed. Standardization of dosage and form poses challenges in studying these substances. Side effects are rare and mild, but users should consider potential interactions with other medications.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms found in foods or supplements, intended to maintain or enhance the “good” bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics, on the other hand, serve as food for these beneficial organisms. Common sources include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut for probiotics, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Scientific Perspective

Probiotics may support gut health and overall well-being, but conclusive evidence regarding their effectiveness is still lacking, according to the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic. Active research is ongoing, particularly regarding their impact on chronic diseases and mood. Side effects are rare, except for individuals with weakened immune systems.


Cannabidiol, derived from cannabis, is known for its therapeutic properties without the psychoactive effects associated with marijuana. It’s used to manage conditions like anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and addiction.

Scientific Perspective

Harvard Medical School suggests CBD as a promising option for managing anxiety and other conditions, albeit with the need for further research to determine optimal dosages. Side effects may include nausea, fatigue, and irritability.

As the functional beverage market continues to evolve, understanding the scientific evidence behind these ingredients is crucial for informed consumption and maximizing potential benefits.

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