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Many people are looking for simple ways to boost their focus, memory, and productivity. That’s why nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are growing rapidly in popularity.
Nootropics are a class of natural or synthetic compounds that may improve your brain function. While hundreds of nootropic supplements are available, several beverages contain natural nootropic compounds ( 1 ).
What’s more, other drinks boast ingredients, such as antioxidants or probiotics, that may support your brain function.
Here are 15 juices and drinks that may boost your brain health.
Coffee is probably the most widely consumed nootropic beverage. Most of its brain benefits come from caffeine, although it contains other compounds like the antioxidant chlorogenic acid that may affect your brain as well ( 2 ).
One review noted that caffeine may improve focus, alertness, reaction time, and memory in doses of 40–300 mg, which is the equivalent of about 0.5–3 cups (120–720 mL) of coffee ( 3 ).
Coffee may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease. In a weeklong mouse study, a dose equivalent to 5 cups (1.2 liters) of coffee daily, or about 500 mg of caffeine, helped prevent and treat Alzheimer’s ( 4 ).
However, human studies are needed.
Keep in mind that caffeine is known to be safe at levels up to 400 mg per day, or about 4 cups (945 mL) of coffee ( 5 ).
Green tea’s caffeine content is much lower than coffee’s. Yet, it also boasts two promising nootropic compounds — l-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Studies suggest that l-theanine may promote relaxation, as well as that l-theanine combined with caffeine may improve attention. A review of 21 human studies found that green tea as a whole may support focus, attention, and memory ( 6 , 7 ).
Additionally, EGCG is able to enter your brain through the blood-brain barrier, meaning it could exert beneficial effects on your brain or even combat neurodegenerative diseases. Nonetheless, more research is necessary ( 8 ).
Kombucha is a fermented drink usually made from green or black tea, plus fruit or botanicals. Its major benefit lies in introducing beneficial bacteria called probiotics to your gut.
Theoretically, improved gut health may boost brain function via the gut-brain axis — a two-way line of communication between your gut and brain. However, little research supports drinking kombucha specifically to bolster brain function ( 9 ).
You can make your own or buy bottled brands of kombucha.
Orange juice is rich in vitamin C, with 1 cup (240 mL) providing 93% of the Daily Value (DV). Interestingly, this vitamin may offer neuroprotective benefits ( 10 ).
One review of 50 human studies found that those with higher blood levels of vitamin C or a higher self-reported vitamin C intake had better attention, memory, and language scores than those with lower blood or intake levels ( 11 ).
However, the downsides of sugary orange juice may outweigh its benefits. The juice is much higher in calories than the whole fruit, and a high added sugar intake is linked to conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease ( 12 ).
A better way to obtain this vitamin is simply to eat an orange. The whole fruit is lower in calories and sugar, as well as higher in fiber, than orange juice — while still providing 77% of the DV for vitamin C ( 13 ). happy_lark/Getty Images Blueberries are rich in polyphenol plant compounds that may provide brain-boosting benefits. Anthocyanins — antioxidants that give these berries their blueish-purple hue — may be largely responsible ( 14 ).
Likewise, blueberry juice is loaded with these compounds.
Still, one review of high quality studies in nearly 400 people found mixed results. The strongest positive effect involved better short- and long-term memory, but some studies in this review reported no positive brain effects from blueberry intake ( 14 , 15 ).
What’s more, eating whole blueberries is a healthier, lower sugar option that may provide similar benefits.
Green juice combines green fruits and veggies, such as: dark leafy greens like kale or spinach
green apples fresh herbs, such as lemongrass Green smoothies may also contain ingredients like avocado, yogurt, protein powder, or bananas to add creaminess and nutrients.While the brain-boosting potential of green juices or smoothies depends heavily on the ingredients, these drinks are often rich in vitamin C and other helpful antioxidants ( 16 ).Otherwise, try one of the recipes below. Simple green juice recipe Makes 3–4 servings Ingredients 1 head of celery 1 handful of lemongrass 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach 2 small green apples, cored and sliced 2 limes , peeled with seeds removed Steps> Wash all produce thoroughly, then cut it into small enough pieces for your juicer to manage. Run each ingredient through the juicer and capture the juice in a large jar or pitcher. Mix well and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days. Simple green smoothie recipe Makes 1 serving Ingredients half of a banana, peeled and sliced 1 cup (245 grams) of vanilla Greek yogurt 1/2 cup (120 mL) of milk (dairy or plant-based) a handful of ice Steps> Wash the kale thoroughly. In a blender, combine all ingredients. If the smoothie is too thick, try adding more milk. If it’s too thin, add more banana or avocado. Sometimes called golden milk , turmeric lattes are warm, creamy drinks featuring the bright yellow spice turmeric.Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin, which may increase your body’s production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) ( 17 ).Low BDNF is associated with mental deficits and neurological disorders, so raising BDNF levels may improve brain function. However, you should note that turmeric lattes provide much less curcumin than what’s often administered in studies ( 17 ).Otherwise, consider making your own at home. Turmeric latte recipe Makes 2 servings Ingredients 2 cups (475 mL) of milk (dairy or plant-based) 1.5 teaspoons (5 grams) of ground turmeric optional sweeteners like honey or stevia Steps> Over low heat, […]