WHAT IS A FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGE?
A functional beverage is a non-alcoholic drink which benefits specific bodily functions in addition to providing general nutritional benefits. Functional beverages are not new. The first manufactured “sports drink” became widely available in the late 1920s. By the late 1960s, these “recovery” drinks, usually ending in “ade”, were ubiquitous amongst athletes worldwide. These first widely marketed functional drinks mainly replenished water, sodium and carbohydrates lost during intense and strenuous sporting activities.
Today, the functional beverage market is growing in step with our increased knowledge of the body’s nutritional requirements, resulting in drinks that not only hydrate and restore electrolytes, but also introduce minerals and other additives required for optimal health. It doesn’t hurt if they taste good too. As a result, functional beverages are now consumed by athletes and non-athletes alike.
FUNCTIONAL DRINKS IN HISTORY
Functional drinks are thought to have been used by athletes since the days of the Roman gladiators. Scientific researchers examined evidence from the remains of 22 gladiators, which revealed that while they ate a similar diet as regular folk of the time (non-athletes) the gladiators’ bones contained much higher amounts of calcium than did the bones of their non-athlete counterparts. Researchers surmise that gladiators drank a functional beverage made from water and plant ash, which is high in calcium and may have been consumed to help heal cracked or broken bones. Such a drink was mentioned by Gaius Plinius Secundus in his 10-volume work “Naturalis Historia” (published in 77 AD), wherein he wrote that “One can see how gladiators after combat
are helped by drinking this”.
Indigenous Southeastern Americans, such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muskogee and Seminole people, consumed “Sofkee. Sofkee, a soup or porridge made by cooking cracked white corn in water containing wood ash lye, which makes water alkaline. Sofkee was an important staple that is still consumed today.
The Hopi people also used cornmeal and ash in food and drink preparation, resulting in consumables containing essential minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Sports drinks – “Ades”
Meal replacement and protein drinks
Fruit drinks with vitamin additives
Milk products with added vitamin D and other vitamins Black water (sometimes called “fulvic water” or “mineralized water”) which contains fulvic and humic minerals and may contain vitamin additives.
FOR NON ATHLETES
Life is busy. While some say we are busier now than ever, it may be that we are just busier in different ways and are unhealthily busy. Since the 1950s and through the digital age, automation and other technologies promised us less work and more leisure time. While many aspects of life are easier, these advances have also resulted in many people leading more sedentary lifestyles. We consume fast food and beverages for their convenience and time saving. We “marathon” or “binge-watch” our favourite shows, while simultaneously binging on unhealthy food and drink from our comfy spot on the couch or bed. As a result, health conditions such as high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, even depression and anxiety are rampant in North America. We traded good health for convenience.
Functional beverages like bottled black water exist because of demand driven by an increase in health consciousness. We know we don’t get enough exercise. We know we don’t always eat or drink healthily. We know that changes in lifestyle and attention to good nutrition can reduce incidents of illness and improve our general physical and mental well being. Functional drinks may have been originally created for athletes, but all of us want an “edge” –replenishing essential nutrients and safeguarding against
WATER AS A FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGE
Water is nature’s functional beverage. It’s common knowledge that the body is composed of about 60% water. Water is vital for many bodily functions and good general health. Water regulates body temperature, helps us excrete toxic waste in sweat, urine, and bowel movements, helps our body break down foods and absorb nutrients, improves skin elasticity, and makes our brains function optimally, to name just a few benefits.
Functional drinks made from water often contain trace minerals and vitamins and usually don’t contain sugar or carbohydrates – common ingredients of many sports drinks and energy drinks.
ARE FUNCTIONAL DRINKS SAFE?
Like anything we eat or drink, moderate consumption is usually safest. If you are going to drink a functional beverage, look at the ingredients. If it contains sugar and carbohydrates, you may want to limit your intake. Choosing a natural water (Spring water for example) containing minerals and/or vitamins instead of those containing sugar, fructose, artificial sweeteners, or caffeine, is probably the safer choice.