If you’re reading this blog post, it’s likely that you have a medical need for pumping up your salt needs with dysautonomia, pots, or some form of orthostatic intolerance. For those of you who have stumbled upon this post that do not have increased sodium needs, it may not be for you! We’re going to get very salty here! While there is no true POTS diet, there are avenues that can be taken to help.
Where My POTS & Dysautonomia Journey Began
When you first become diagnosed, it’s hard to change your current habits to align with your new normal. With much experimentation and awareness of my habitual behaviors, I noted the importance of having an increased sodium intake to take place earlier in the day to avoid “catch-up,” late at night. With that, I call this my POTS diet approach as this disorder causes you to have some form of restriction (from the things that harm you.) It also requires the adoption of new behavioral changes.
That led me to a stronger awareness. At noon, if I hadn’t taken enough sodium or had enough water, I would feel the ramifications. I needed sodium structure.
I desperately needed a routine! After many dizzy days filled with paralyzing brain fog, beyond blurry vision, chest pains, and dipping bpm noted on my HR watch, I needed structure to avoid symptoms. If I wasn’t consistent with my recommended supplementation, I would feel the effects in the days to come. My POTS diet approach was not a diet, but a behavior change.
Confirming this belief with doctors, they supported my concern and reiterated the importance of consistency. This was especially important with blood pressure regulation and my body’s uniquely faulty autonomic behaviors.
“Every day that you don’t move or keep consistency, you weaken your heart.“
While this may not be the case for all patients, it was recommended for me which is quite a wake-up call.
How To Start This ‘POTS Diet’ Approach When Feeling Hopeless
At first, you may be thinking ‘How can I even attempt a routine when your POTS restricts you from even functioning day-to-day or minute-to-minute?” This portion of the post was added later on as it took a great deal of time for my system to adjust to these routine changes.
Some days it was challenging to think, see, and even be upright. POTS has an array of symptoms that prevent the average patient from their daily routine. This was my reality, however, after spending many weeks on this post, I’ve realized that understanding my unique symptoms and behaviors was necessary to analyze my POTS treatment even in the form of just sodium and water.
With that, I invite you to ponder that and reiterate that you’re worthy of trying everything under the sun to regain your health.
When My ‘POTS Diet’ Approach Fell Into Place
There is no “POTS diet” but a few small changes made a great deal of improvements. That’s where ‘sodium at sunrise’ came to mind. I would wake up with a full bottle of water and one sodium tablet as I drank my morning coffee. (I still drink coffee with my diagnosis as I see very little difference in my blood pressure response or HRV.) Then, I would plan to drink another 30 oz of water before noon with additional sodium chloride tablets. This was to ensure I was hitting my needs before the day was even 1/4 of the way over. I would repeat this process two more times before the day would end. This allowed me to achieve at least 120oz of water and 4g of sodium.
Once I got into a routine with this ‘sodium structure’ I saw a positive change. If you have bladder issues from your autonomic disorder you may need to boost your water/sodium intake. I recommend this earlier in the day. This was my reality. This took me nearly three months to understand my water intake needs were higher than the average pots patient. Therefore, please keep in mind your individualized needs by reviewing this with your doctor.
(To note: I did struggle with this change.) I believed I could get by without the recommended amounts. This resulted in a painful pattern I quickly noticed on the days that followed. What truly helped me recognize these symptomatic dips was being able to see & track my daily water intake with my HR watch and app. It allows you to track fluids along with numerous other things. I cannot stress consistency enough. I also rely on a water bottle that I love that makes tracking second nature.
These water bottles have helped me stay on track as they’re exactly 30 oz. I know that by drinking four, I’ve reached my goal.
(I personally love that the straw is flexible silicone vs metal or glass)
Outside of the use of my sodium chloride tablets, I started to try to utilize various table salts. This is a cheaper alternative and can be measured easily. I follow the measurement amount on each package and use a salt holder and measuring spoon to add to my water or daily meals. I’ve linked a few options above as I have a wood & ceramic salt holder that I love for its stylish look and use!
Lastly, when making these changes; give yourself some grace. Changes do not happen overnight. If anyone can speak depth into that statement, it’s me. I have had countless testing done to confirm why my body didn’t signal thirst and why I could go days without drinking ANY water. Battling why I have felt that was completely normal is still a hard pill to swallow. While avoiding water intake for years due to problems that we never truly understood until now has helped me cope and accept my past behavior. You have to keep in mind that dysautonomia will affect all individuals in a unique manner as it is a multi-organ & multi-system disorder.
As a health-conscious chef, I continuously stress the importance of nutrients in food, however, I never stressed the importance of water until my health called out for its validity. Making these changes was difficult. This has been one of the hardest things to implement. Now, knowing the importance behind it allowing me to feel better (and putting trust in my specialists) makes it that much easier to make it a positive part of my life. I have realized this change is one that my body will always benefit from. It’s striking how powerful a simple change can completely transform major parts of your life.
(If you have any interest in the filtration system I personally use & love I’ve linked my blog post on it here.)
Drink up my dysautonomia love bugs!