Top 5 Brain Drinks for Better Focus (Backed By Science)

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Brain Drinks for Better Focus

We all have our favorite beverages, which we consume for various reasons—to give us energy, make us feel more relaxed, or simply enhance the taste of something bland. Most of us can attest that the beverages have effects, and some people take them for the deliberate purpose of feeling energized.

Well, you might be pleased to know that numerous scientists argue that specific nutrients affect certain cognitive processes and emotions, giving validity to drinking these nootropic beverages.

If you’re curious how certain drinks can impact your focus, continue reading to discover five of the top nootropic drinks for better focus and mental performance.

What are Brain Drinks?

Brain drinks are beverages believed to improve your energy level, cut down on brain fog, and help you concentrate. They are classified under nootropic substances. They are also called nootropic beverages because they contain bioactive ingredients claimed to improve mental clarity, decision making, and memory.

Scientific research argues that specific nutrients affect certain cognitive processes and emotions. One such study[1] was conducted in 2020 using some Australian Rugby League players. The team set out to determine whether an anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant drink could lead to acute improvements in cognition among athletes. 

Researchers discovered that the rugby league players who took a blackcurrant-based nootropic drink containing pine bark and l-theanine (BC+) had greater peripheral and brain blood flow. After just one week of BC+ supplementation, participants’ cognitive function scores improved significantly.

Any beverage that helps you focus can be considered a nootropic, but the efficacy differs. Knowledge of the active components in these nootropic drinks is crucial to ensure individuals are aware of natural alternatives for the best possible cognitive enhancement.

Proper nutrition, and not relying totally on nootropic supplements, is still vital in boosting brain function and delaying cognitive decline. 

Here are the top five brain-boosting beverages for better focus

Tea

Tea is a delicious and healthy drink that also happens to have some tremendous cognitive benefits. Long before energy drinks or coffee hit the mainstream, tea was considered an essential health beverage. Motives of tea consumption ranged from alertness, mood alleviation, taste, habit, symptom management and was also used as a socially engaging ritual. 

Green, white, oolong, black—all kinds can boost your memory function and increase motivation. Teas contain L-theanine, an amino acid that affects cognitive processes such as attention and the overall calming effect.

A 2021 study[2] gave participants the Mini-Mental State Examination[3]-Japanese version MMSE-J to monitor the effect of L-theanine on promoting attention, thus enhancing working memory and helping improve cognitive function while alleviating brain fog.

According to the results, a single dose of 100.6 milligrams of L-theanine reduced reaction time in the attention test. It improved correct answers while reducing the number of omission errors in the working memory task. This improvement in attention signifies that L-theanine may reduce brain fog and executive function.

There has been a strong link between dopamine release and green tea consumption. Green tea polyphenols protect dopamine neurons, and this effect increases with the amount consumed. A cup now and then can help protect brain cells from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease.

It was once thought that the caffeine in tea affected short-term memory. However, it turns out that studying while drinking decaffeinated teas can actually improve test scores and support memory recall in students.  

Coffee

The caffeine in your morning cup of coffee might offer more than just a short-term concentration boost. In a 2014 study[4] published by BioMed Research International, hemodialysis patients who were habitual coffee drinkers showed signs of improved mental function as opposed to their non-coffee drinking peers. Coffee drinkers scored better for tasks that measured attention, concentration, and working memory.

Due to deficient processing of relevant perceptual stimuli, hemodialysis patients frequently have cognitive impairment with significant executive dysfunction and reduced attention. This pilot study suggested that the observed beneficial impact of moderate caffeine intake by regular coffee consumption on cognitive performance was due mainly to enhanced attention, concentration, and vigilance.

However, we are constantly bombarded by warnings from experts to minimize the amount of coffee we drink daily. But just how many cups is enough?

A team of researchers in 2014[5] conducted a study to assess the impact of regular coffee intake on human health. They found that while there are indisputable benefits of consuming coffee, like lower blood sugar and blood pressure, there are elevated health risks when daily amounts are too high.

A specific figure cannot be set due to differences in personal sensitivity to coffee. Plus, coffee’s biological effects on people may vary because of genetic differences.

There is also growing concern over coffee consumption by young adolescents. Views remain greatly varied across the spectrum. Northern Kentucky University conducted a study to discern the effect of caffeine[6] intake on the adolescent brain. The results show that adolescents who consume high amounts of caffeine in certain coffees are at a higher risk of developing acute caffeine toxicity.

Green Smoothies

Many people consider smoothies to be a healthy way to drink a meal, but one thing they may not know is that they can specifically be a handy way to increase focus and energy throughout the day.

Green smoothies are full of brain-friendly nutrients, vitamins, minerals, probiotics, phytonutrients, and chlorophyll which are great for your overall health. And because you’re still getting all these essential nutrients while drinking your meal instead of eating it, your body can absorb them much more efficiently.

Some popular ingredients in green smoothies are that are used to improve brain function are:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Lemongrass
  • Green apples
  • Cucumbers

Because these green vegetables, herbs, and fruits are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene, you feel satiated longer, enhancing your ability to perform tasks.

Typically, the brain-boosting potential of green smoothies depends heavily on the ingredients. These drinks are often rich in vitamin C and other helpful antioxidants. It is possible to combine the strengths of different brain-enhancing components to develop a super drink that will help you increase your focus and mental clarity.

For instance, you can infuse a matcha (or green tea extract) smoothie with lion’s mane mushrooms (or a bit of beetroot juice) to deliver a bigger punch. A banana and a handful of blueberries are sure to tantalize any taste buds.

Blueberry Drinks

The natural plant pigments known as flavonoids give berries their vivid shades. Flavonoids help to boost memory. A study done by researchers at Harvard Brigham and Women’s Hospital[7] found that women who consumed two or more servings of blueberries each week delayed memory decline significantly. The researchers concluded that blueberries could treat patients who already show signs of age-related mental impairment.

There are several ways of using blueberries in drinks: as a juice, a shake, or a smoothie. The antioxidants found in blueberries also make them an excellent source of abundant healthy plant chemicals like polyphenolic compounds.

Antioxidants found in blueberries promote memory and cognitive function in adults to potentially prevent Alzheimer’s disease or dementia risk. The antioxidant properties will also help fight against free radicals, boost focus and memory retention, and improve vision.

Orange Juice

Oranges make a sweet and earthy juice that’s rich in vitamin C, which provides antioxidant properties. Vitamin C has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders linked to aging. It also contains bioflavonoids, which are plant pigments found in many different foods, including oranges.

Bioflavonoids have antioxidant properties that help protect cells against free-radical damage, according to a 2015 study[8] that was published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

Flavonoid-rich orange juice is among the best natural brain-boosting beverages. They provide excellent nutrition for your mind and will encourage subjective alertness for up to six hours post-consumption.

Freshly-squeezed juice is recommended over types that undergo pasteurization to enable long-term storage. Some research[9] disputes the quality and effectiveness of pasteurization of drinks manufactured from the pulp of fresh oranges.

They argue that there is significant deterioration of properties in orange juice after such processes, including a reduction of specific bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and the flavonoid hesperidin, as well as ascorbic acid.

The Bottom Line

Getting healthy is one of the best things you can do for your brain. The easiest solution to improve concentration and focus is watching what you eat and drink. Consult a professional to provide medical advice if you intend on taking any brain foods for symptom management.

Online resources are an excellent source of amazing recipes that you can use to design your very own nootropic beverages.

Have you tried any of the above drinks? What were the effects? We would love to hear about your experience. Kindly share with us in the comment section below.


+ 9 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Gibson, N., Baker, D., Sharples, A. and Braakhuis, A. (2020). Improving Mental Performance in an Athletic Population with the Use of Ārepa®, a Blackcurrant Based Nootropic Drink: A Randomized Control Trial. Antioxidants, [online] 9(4), p.316. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7222175/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  2. ‌Baba, Y., Inagaki, S., Nakagawa, S., Kaneko, T., Kobayashi, M. and Takihara, T. (2021). Effects of l-Theanine on Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged and Older Subjects: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Medicinal Food, [online] 24(4), pp.333–341. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8080935/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  3. ‌Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE). (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/gap/cgi-bin/GetPdf.cgi?id=phd001525.1.
  4. ‌Nikić, P.M., Andrić, B.R., Stojimirović, B.B., Trbojevic-Stanković, J. and Bukumirić, Z. (2014). Habitual Coffee Consumption Enhances Attention and Vigilance in Hemodialysis Patients. BioMed Research International, [online] 2014, pp.1–7. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4026941/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  5. ‌Bae, J.-H., Park, J.-H., Im, S.-S. and Song, D.-K. (2014). Coffee and health. Integrative Medicine Research, [online] 3(4), pp.189–191. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481750/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  6. ‌Curran, C.P. and Marczinski, C.A. (2017). Taurine, caffeine, and energy drinks: Reviewing the risks to the adolescent brain. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321915250_Taurine_caffeine_and_energy_drinks_Reviewing_the_risks_to_the_adolescent_brain [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  7. ‌Devore, E.E., Kang, J.H., Breteler, M.M.B. and Grodstein, F. (2012). Dietary intakes of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. Annals of Neurology, [online] 72(1), pp.135–143. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582325/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  8. ‌Alharbi, M.H., Lamport, D.J., Dodd, G.F., Saunders, C., Harkness, L., Butler, L.T. and Spencer, J.P.E. (2015). Flavonoid-rich orange juice is associated with acute improvements in cognitive function in healthy middle-aged males. European Journal of Nutrition, [online] 55(6), pp.2021–2029. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5009163/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].
  9. ‌Sádecká, J., Polovka, M., Kolek, E. and Durec, J. (2014). Orange juice with pulp: Impact of pasteurization and storage on flavour, polyphenols, ascorbic acid and… [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286068945_Orange_juice_with_pulp_Impact_of_pasteurization_and_storage_on_flavour_polyphenols_ascorbic_acid_and_antioxidant_activity [Accessed 21 Nov. 2021].

Medically reviewed by:

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

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