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Wellness Drinks: A Complete Guide

Welcome to our wellness drink guide!

Discover the power of refreshing elixirs that can boost your body and lift your mood!

What are Wellness Drinks?

Wellness drinks are beverages that provide an extra health benefit beyond basic nutrition.

“Functional Beverages” is another term for wellness drinks.

Consumers are more aware of health and wellness than ever!

This has created a demand for products with added nutritional benefits.

Potential Benefits of Wellness Drinks

  • Increased energy
  • Improved immunity
  • Mental & brain health
  • Improved gut health
  • Skin health
  • Stress relief
  • Restful sleep
Woman doing a yoga pose representing wellness
Elevate your health!

Concerns with Wellness Drinks

Wellness drinks, aka “functional beverages”, are generally considered safe.

The added sugar and calories in some of these beverages may contribute to weight gain and other chronic diseases.

In addition, many of these beverages contain added caffeine. This can be an issue for those who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Other potential concerns are the ingredients that claim health benefits, such as adaptogens, probiotics, and collagen. These claims are not supported by the FDA.

Any supplements or herbs should be discussed with your physician before you add them to your wellness routine.

Hands with mocktails toasting
Cheers to wellness drinks!

Options for Wellness Drinks

Walk into any convenience or grocery store, and you’ll see a plethora of ready-to-drink beverages!

Below is your complete guide to navigating through these wellness drinks.

Beverage Categories

I’ve created 9 wellness drink categories to help you best navigate this guide.

  1. Coffee
  2. Tea
  3. Fermented wellness drinks
  4. Energy drinks
  5. Enhanced waters
  6. Sports drinks
  7. Functional beauty beverages
  8. Wellness/Immunity shots
  9. Alcohol alternatives for the “alcohol occasion”
Wellness Drinks
A complete guide to wellness drinks!

1. Coffee

Our beloved “Cup of Joe” is one of the original functional beverages.

The caffeine in coffee promotes energy and focus. In addition, coffee has several other evidence-based health benefits.

Health Benefits of Coffee

  • Increased energy
  • Improved brain health
  • Weight management
  • Lowered risk of heart disease
  • Longevity
  • Decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes

There are several new options for coffee. Check out this Age-Defying Dietitian blog post “How to Enjoy the Benefits of Ginseng Coffee“.

Cup of Coffee Wellness Drink
Coffee – the original wellness drink!

Nitro Coffee

Nitro coffee contains approximately 30% more caffeine than its’ traditional counterpart.

This cold brew is infused with nitrogen, and is described as sweet, creamy, and refreshing!

This super-caffeinated beverage offers the same benefits as coffee (see above), plus added caffeine.

While caffeine has health benefits, too much caffeine can cause side effects.

These include trouble sleeping, nervousness, headaches, and increased heart rate.

Check out “How to Easily Make Nitro Cold Brew At Home” from Perfect Brew. to make nitro coffee.

Mushroom Coffee

Mushroom coffee is promoted as a healthier alternative to traditional coffee due to its lower caffeine content.

An average cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, while Starbucks has closer to 200 mg (per 8-ounce serving).

Mushroom coffee contains ~50-60 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. This is a result of combining a non-caffeinated mushroom powder with coffee beans.

This mushroom powder comes from Adaptogen-containing mushrooms. Adaptogens are thought to improve your body’s response to stress.

Potential health benefits for Adaptogens, including mushroom coffee, require more research.

Mushroom Coffee
Mushroom Coffee

You can learn more about adaptogens in our post on Ashwagandha vs Maca: Which is Better?.

Golden Coffee

Golden coffee, also known as “Golden Milk” or “Turmeric Latte,” is a warm and comforting beverage made with a combination of milk and a blend of spices, with turmeric being the star ingredient.

Turmeric gives this drink its distinctive golden color and offers a wide range of potential health benefits.

Golden coffee has gained popularity in recent years. This is due in part to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

2. Tea

Like coffee, tea is an original functional beverage.

Tea contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body. Therefore, tea may aid in the prevention of some chronic diseases

A “functional tea” is customized for an intended wellness benefit.

You’ll find an abundance of teas that offer specific benefits such as promoting sleep, reducing stress, and improving digestion.

Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s previous blog post on the health benefits of collagen tea for healthy aging.

Wellness Drink - Cup of Tea
Functional Tea

3. Fermented Wellness Drinks

The process of fermentation involves bacteria breaking down sugar.

Fermented drinks can increase the amount of probiotics, or good bacteria, in your gut.

Probiotics may improve digestion, increase immunity, and potentially support weight loss.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been around for thousands of years. It contains tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast.

It has the antioxidants from tea that reduce inflammation, plus the digestive and immune benefits of probiotics.

The nonhuman literature claims numerous health benefits of kombucha.

Kombucha contains small amounts of sugar and caffeine, as well as alcohol from the fermentation.

The alcohol content can vary significantly, therefore you should always get Kombucha from a trusted brewer.

A potential risk of Kombucha is foodborne illness due to the live, active bacteria cultures. Proper storage and handling are essential!

Avoid Kombucha if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a weakened immune system.

Kombucha
Kombucha

Kefir Wellness Drinks

Kefir is a fermented drink prepared with cow or goat’s milk. It is made by adding Kefir grains to the milk.

These grains contain yeast and lactic acid bacteria, which multiply and ferment sugars in the milk. The result is kefir which is described as a “drinkable yogurt”.

Yogurt and kefir provide similar nutrients, however, kefir is a much more potent source of probiotics.

Touted health benefits include improved digestion and increased immunity, along with improved bone health/decreased risk of osteoporosis.

You can find ready-to-drink kefir products both online and at your local grocer.

A glass of kefir
Kefir

Check out this blog post by Two Peas and a Pod – “How to Make Kefir” to make your own!

Prebiotic Sodas

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that essentially work as food for Probiotics.

The best sources of prebiotics are found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The combination of prebiotics and probiotics aids in the growth of healthy bacteria in our gut, improving the health of our gut microbiome.

In addition to prebiotics, these beverages contain carbonated water and fruit juice. They are sweetened with sugar or a sugar substitute like Stevia.

Currently, there are no standards or recommendations around prebiotics and probiotics.

Soda, like Poppi or Olipop contains prebiotics and can be a healthier alternative to traditional soda.

However, it is best to get prebiotics from whole foods like fruits and vegetables, rather than processed foods like soda.

5 bottles of prebiotic sodas in different colors
Prebiotic Soda

4. Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are defined as over-the-counter commercial beverages with high caffeine content that are advertised as boosting energy including mental alertness and physical performance. 

Effects from energy drinks include increased alertness, attention, and energy, as well as increased blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.

Potential dangers of energy drinks are dehydration, anxiety, sleeplessness, and heart problems.

These dangers are of particular concern for children, teenagers, and young adults.

The caffeine content of energy drinks can vary significantly and manufacturers are not required to list the amount of caffeine on the food label.

The high sugar content is also a concern in some energy drinks.

There is some evidence to support that energy drinks may improve physical endurance.

Popular brands of energy drinks include Red Bull, Monster, and NOS.

Man drinking an energy drink

Energy Hybrid Drinks

Energy hybrid drinks are a result of merging energy drinks with a beverage that has a different health benefit.

An example is True North’s Pure Energy Seltzer, an energy drink with sparkling water.

The product claims it can boost energy and provide immune support.

We will see more of these hybrids as consumers search for beverages with multiple health benefits!

5. Enhanced Waters

Enhanced waters contain added functional ingredients. The most common additions are vitamins and minerals.

Additional ingredients may include natural or artificial flavors, along with sugar or artificial sweeteners.

More premium enhanced waters may contain protein or other functional ingredients like caffeine.

Enhanced water wellness drinks; woman looking at water in a grocery aisle
Enhanced Waters

Popular brands of enhanced waters include Vitamin Water and Hint.

Make a version of vitamin water with these 6 Delicious Vitamin-Infused Waters from Hello Glow.

6. Sport Drinks

Sports drinks replace water, electrolytes, and energy lost with exercise.

Common electrolytes in sports drinks include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium.

These drinks also contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar. There are also brands that substitute some or all of the sugar with artificial sweeteners.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals engaging in vigorous exercise for one hour or longer consider drinking a carbohydrate-based sports beverage, especially if they are sweating heavily.

Colorful sports wellness drinks in a cooler
Sports Drinks

Some common sports drink brands include Gatorade, Powerade, and Bodyarmor.

You can make a budget-friendly sports drink. Check out Sports Dietitian Nancy Clark’s recipe for a homemade sports drink.

Recovery Drinks

Recovery drinks replenish electrolytes, and help your muscles repair after exercise.

A balanced meal or snack after a workout will also support recovery from exercise.

Chocolate milk is the original sports recovery drink! It contains the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein to support exercise recovery.

Women cyclist drinking a Sports Wellness Drink
Recovery drinks replenish electrolytes.

Fairlife’s Ultra-filtered chocolate milk and Muscle Milk Collegiate are great ready-to-drink options for your post-exercise beverage.

7. Functional Beauty Beverages

Functional beauty beverages, also known as “ingestible beauty”, contain beneficial ingredients for skin, hair, and nails.

These products typically contain biotin, collagen, fish oil, and vitamins A, C, & E.

Skin Te is a sparkling water that contains collagen, herbs, and antioxidants.

Another option is Hum’s Collagen Pop tablet with collagen & vitamin C. Collagen Pop comes in a tablet that you dissolve in 8 ounces of water.

Make a homemade beauty beverage with the Age-Defying Dietitian’s recipe for “The Best Anti-Aging Drink with Peanut Butter & Bananas“.

Beauty Wellness Drink- Woman drinking
Ingestible Beauty

Being hydrated has several health benefits, including glowing skin.

Check out this Age-Defying blog post “How to Hydrate Your Skin from the Inside Out“.

8. Wellness/Immunity Shots

Wellness, or immunity shots, are a concentrated source of nutrients in small portion sizes.

They typically contain juice, herbs, and spices, and claim to boost immunity.

There currently isn’t enough evidence to say that these shots boost immunity. However, the nutrients in wellness shots do have numerous health benefits.

Wellness/Immunity shots are considered safe, however, some contain herbs that can interact with medications.

Always talk to your physician before adding any supplement to your wellness routine.

Wellness Shot; woman holding a shot glass of green juice
Wellness Shot

You can find wellness/immunity shots at your local grocer. They come in 1-3 ounce bottles.

Another option is to make immunity shots. Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s blog post “5 Wellness Shot Recipes that Taste Good’.

9. Alcohol Alternatives for the Alcohol Occasion

With Dry January upon us, and the Sober Curious Movement in full swing, you may be searching for an alcohol substitute with added health benefits.

An alcohol-free lifestyle is no longer just about alcoholism. 

Alcohol alternatives may contain CBD, Adaptogens, Kava, and even THC in States where cannabis is legal.

2 people toasting with mocktails; cheers to alcohol alternatives!
Alcohol Alternatives

To learn more about alcohol alternatives, check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s previous blog post “Alcohol Alternatives: A Buzz Without The Alcohol Or The Hangover”.

Takeaways on Wellness Drinks

There are numerous wellness drinks on the market. Touted benefits include gut health, immune support, brain health, stress relief, and improved energy and sleep.

Wellness drinks, aka “functional beverages”, are generally considered safe. The added sugar and calories in some of these beverages may contribute to weight gain and other chronic diseases.

Additional factors to consider are added herbs and Adaptogens. Some may interact with medications.

There is some scientific evidence to support the benefits of wellness drinks. However, the products’ claims are not supported by the FDA.

Always consult your physician before adding any supplements to your wellness routine.

4 people clinking drinks together in a toast on vacation.

Hungry for More?

Interested in more information on nutrition for healthy aging?

Check out the Age-Defying Dietitian’s blog for more content!

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*Please note this blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

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