A supplement is a hassle; however, a delectable beverage is a delight. It is a never-ending rummage for special foods and beverages that enhance human health, while new ideas continue to emerge from time to time. Consumers’ increasing understanding is causing them to abandon stereotyped categories, such as carbonated beverages in favour of “healthier” alternatives, such as probiotic drinks and other functional beverages. Functional foods are defined by the European Commission as “a food product that can only be considered functional if together with the basic nutritional impact, it has beneficial effects on one or more function of the human organism, thus either improving the general physical conditions or/and decreasing the risk of the evolution of disease.”(Orrù et al., 2018)
Functional drinks are a sub-sector of the Functional Food Industry and the Functional Food Market’s fastest expanding category. Regular fruit juices serve basic nutritional purposes, whereas these fruit juices fortified with specific ingredients are termed functional beverages. The functional beverage sector has also been witnessing a boom recently with a market size of USD 110,148.9 million as of 2020. The sector is expected to expand further and attain a market size of USD 200,080.3 million by 2030, while growing at a CAGR of 5.9 percent during the period from 2021 to 2030. (Kamble & Deshmukh, 2021)
Raw fruit, minerals, vitamins, herbs, protein, amino acids, probiotics and certain artificial additions are common ingredients of choice for the formulation of functional beverages (Fig. 1). Awareness among consumers is fuelled by an increase in innovation and scientific research. Functional beverages are among the most popular categories in the functional foods sector, since it’s easy to process, handle and store. They are also increasingly gaining scientific and commercial interest just like functional foods in the current era of self-care and complementary medicine. This is reflected by the continuous appearance of new functional products in the market in recent times. There is also an increasing amount of scientific evidence indicating the health benefits attributed to the consumption of functional beverages. These functional beverages have a myriad of applications, a few of which are discussed here.
Functional Beverages to prevent Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a term used to describe a set of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Angina, myocardial infarction, stroke and heart failure are some examples of CVDs. Depending on the ailment, the underlying mechanisms differ. Dietary risk factors are considered responsible for 53% of CVD fatalities (Petersen & Kris-Etherton, 2021). Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundantly found in fish oil serve a variety of purposes and have potential therapeutic cardio-metabolic effects. Research has spurred a great deal of interest in understanding the significance of omega-3 fatty acids in primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention. The beneficial effects of Omega-3 fatty acids are summarized in Fig. 2. (Kromhout et al., 2012)
Owing to their cardiovascular advantages, omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) have become one of the most popular ingredients in a growing variety of functional foods and drinks. Many people are put off by the fishy odour and taste of gelatin capsules, which have traditionally been the easiest method to gain the advantages of fish-oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids. Hence, functional beverages have been developed to hide their “fishy” taste and odour without jeopardizing their health advantages. Spanning the globe, several beverages are connecting with consumers in the core omega-3 drinks market. The Coca-Cola Company, a US beverage giant has developed an innovative beverage containing omega-3 fatty acids, which will be named as “Gomega”.
Functional Beverages for Sleep and Relaxation
One section of the functional beverage business that has seen an increase in demand in recent years is beverages that promote relaxation and sleep. Sleep is vital for both mental and physical health. However, because of the grind of work, family duties and constant stress, we don’t get enough of it. This is where functional drinks kick in. Some amino acids of importance in sleep are described. L-Tryptophan (L-TRP) is an essential amino acid necessary for protein synthesis and serves as a substrate for a variety of bioactive molecules such as serotonin, tryptamine, melatonin and niacin.
Only around 1-2% of ingested. L-TRP is delivered into the brain to produce central serotonin and melatonin, both of which are key chemicals in the ‘sleep-wake cycle’ (Bulman et al., 2021). Melatonin is a neurosecretory hormone that is produced in the pineal gland from L-TRP and serotonin. Its principal role is to control the sleep-wake cycle. L-Theanine (L-THE) is an amino acid that has anxiolytic and relaxing properties. It is seen as a prominent contender for potentially increasing the sleep quality, owing to its involvement in regulating neurotransmitters involved in the sleep process (Rao et al., 2015). Many companies are incorporating these amino acids to make these functional beverages. NeuroSLEEP is touted as a drink that contains a unique combination of L-Theanine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), and melatonin. Melatonin, 5-hydroxytryptophan, magnesium and L-theanine are blended with pomegranate, acai and blueberry extracts in the NeuroSLEEP brand from Neuro Drinks which is being marketed in over 48 countries.
Functional Beverages under study for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a malignant tumour that has a global influence on human health and is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related mortality. In a study, VMW-FC was developed based on past studies of the chemotherapeutic impact of Fucoidan (FC), a natural bioactive component for functional meals, a powerful cocktail of organic vegetable juice (V), mulberry (M) and wheatgrass (W) (Chen et al., 2021). Sulfated polysaccharides, proteins, amino acids, polypeptides, mineral elements and fatty acids have all been discovered in FC mostly found in the cell wall of brown seaweeds. This study showed that the novel formulation strongly suppressed the OECM-1, HSC3 and SAS cell lines from human oral squamous carcinoma (in a dose- and time-dependent manner). The blockage of the cell cycle in the G2/M phase and the activation of apoptosis are two factors that contribute to the inhibition of cancer cell development. VMC-FC decreased oral cancer cells’ ability to spread and the expression of EMT (Epithelial-mesenchymal transition) markers. (Chen et al., 2021)
Beverages are now the most active functional food category because of their ease of incorporating into the diet and storage. Furthermore, they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, plant extracts, fibre, prebiotics and probiotics, among other nutrients and bioactive substances which can have a plethora of beneficial effects on our well-being. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” quoted by Hippocrates, is one of the main motivations behind the development of various functional beverage formulations that has been steadily working towards capturing the Beverages Market globally.
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A novel fucoidan complex-based functional beverage attenuates oral cancer through inducing apoptosis, G2/M cell cycle arrest and retarding cell migration / invasion. Journal of Functional Foods, 85. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.JFF.2021.104665
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