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10 min read

What Is A Functional Beverage

Drinks For Wellness

The future of the beverage industry has arrived, and not only does it taste great, but it's also good for you! The future is functional, more specifically "functional beverages," and they are also the present, as they now account for over fifty percent of the non-alcoholic beverage market. Consumers are no longer satisfied with a cup of sugar water and a side of diabetes; they want products that enhance their daily life with natural ingredients backed by scientific research designed to boost their wellness and productivity. And what brings consumers that? Functional beverages, of course!

What is a functional beverage?

Functional beverages are defined as products that supply health benefits beyond essential nutritional factors. Essentially, rather than focusing solely on flavor, functional beverages aim to deliver more to the consumer, such as provide an energy boost, sharpen and refocus the mind, provide essential vitamins and minerals, or (as is the case with one particular beverage brand *wink wink*) enhance gut microbiome health and diversity.1

Functional Beverages in History

Now you might be saying, haven't functional beverages existed forever? Hasn't tea been consumed for thousands of years not only for its warmth and herbaceous aroma and flavor but also for the enhanced alertness and mental acuity it provides via caffeine? Yes! Tea and coffee are perhaps the historical epitome of functional beverages, and surely alcohol was at one time or another thought to convey some health benefits to the imbiber (and who could really argue that a glass of red wine after a long day's work isn't strictly "functional").

In recent times, various functional beverages have gone through waves of popularity, such as the rise of Gatorade and other similarly-marketed sports and performance drinks that promised to both hydrate and replenish those nutrients lost during strenuous physical activity. Then there was the tsunami of "energy" drinks such as Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy, which strove to replace the oldies mentioned earlier tea and coffee as the go-to beverages for an early morning wake-up call or mid-day energy revitalizer.2 Nowadays, it seems like there’s a new functional beverage released to the market every week, with all of them claiming (with varying degrees of veracity) that their product delivers more to the consumer than other beverages.

Current Top Four Functional Ingredients in Functional Beverages

All functional beverage products promise to benefit the drinker, and thankfully, some actually deliver. Here are a few of the ingredients that dominate the market.


The global collagen market is exploding, increasing by 6.5% year after year, and has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Consumers are hungry (or thirsty) for more and more of one of the richest proteins produced in the body. Collagen is primarily sought out for its cosmetic health benefits, such as enhanced skincare, bone density and health, and anti-aging properties.

Nootropics and Adaptogens

Nootropics are supplements designed to improve and revitalize cognitive function, such as memory, alertness, or creativity. Ginseng is a popular nootropic used in functional beverages as it is thought to provide brain-boosting effects and boost the immune system.3

Adaptogens are natural ingredients categorized as herbal remedies such as turmeric, ginger, or licorice that are sought out for their stress-reduction capabilities, natural flavors, and earthiness.3


Similar to adaptogens, botanicals and extracts are also prized for their connection to nature, which contributes to enhanced flavor, various perceived health benefits, and a rich history of usage for thousands of years. The botanical market continues to explode as the use of these natural herbs, spices, and fruits increases in popularity.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Modern scientific research has emphasized the importance of gut health to overall health and wellness, and as a result, the functional beverage industry has been close behind. The rise of fermented beverages like kombucha is emblematic of this new emphasis on the importance of the diversity of gut bacteria, with probiotics and prebiotics providing the means to attain this goal.4

OLIPOP: The Ultimate Functional Beverage

Searching for a soda that tastes great, but also does the work that other functional beverages promise? Look no further than OLIPOP, which with its unique combination of botanicals, probiotics, and prebiotics such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, and Nopal cactus, has been painstakingly researched and tested to deliver a revolution in gut health and the formation of new beneficial gut bacteria.


  1. Raman, M., Ambalam, P., & Doble, M. (2019). Probiotics, prebiotics, and fibers in nutritive and functional beverages. In Nutrients in Beverages (pp. 315–367). Elsevier.
  2. Rushton, M. (2021). The rise of functional beverages - foodbev media. FoodBev Media.
  3. Tireki, S. (2021). A review on packed non-alcoholic beverages: Ingredients, production, trends and future opportunities for functional product development. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 112, 442–454.
  4. Rushton, M. (2021). The rise of functional beverages - foodbev media. FoodBev Media.
Cheat Sheet
  • Functional beverages are defined as products that supply health benefits beyond essential nutritional factors.
  • The four most common ingredients in today’s functional beverages include collagen, nootropics and adaptogens, prebiotics and probiotics.

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