So, why am I constantly mentioning salty drinks and salt fixes? Believe it or not, simply INCREASING SALT (and fluid) INTAKE is one of the first lines of treatment for most people with POTS and certain other types of dysautonomia. Although most Americans have heard we should decrease our sodium, salt is fantastic for most people with POTS, because it thickens our blood and increases our blood volume so it has a better chance of “sticking” in our brains and the upper half of our body instead of pooling in our legs and feet. Often people with POTS have less blood volume than normal people, for some reason– so think of how you feel when you’ve given a pint or more of blood (lightheaded, nauseous, weak, maybe fluish): That may be how a person with POTS feels a lot of the time.
Believe it or not, if I am fading or having a hard time talking and drink a big glass of salty water, it helps significantly. I’m so thankful!
So how does one get all this sodium? (Don’t take my advice, but doctors often recommend 5,000-8,000 mg of sodium a day for people with POTS.) Of course, you get some sodium in your diet. For about a week last summer, I counted sodium milligrams the way people count calories and discovered I need to add about 2-1/2 tsp of salt per day to my diet, particularly because I don’t eat a lot of processed foods (which often have a lot of sodium). That’s a lotta salt, folks!
At first, I tried sprinkling salt on everything I ate. However, I didn’t love the taste, plus at times, I can’t eat a ton due to nausea and digestive issues, so I didn’t really want to ruin the food I was trying to enjoy.
I started putting 1/4 tsp salt in hot tea (acquired taste for sure!) and have worked my way up to 1/2 tsp of salt in pretty much whatever I drink (tea, water, steamed almondmilk, etc)– and I can handle a full teaspoon in electrolyte-type drinks, like Gatorade (which I don’t like due to sugar and color), or even in sodas (ditto) or smoothies.
Foods thought of as salty, like chips, may be high in sodium… but I once calculated I’d have to have about 20 servings of chips PER DAY to get the sodium I need (149 mg in a serving of regular potato chips is just a drop in the bucket for me!).
If you are adding salt to your food (or drinks!), consider sea salt for the trace minerals it has. If you use straight Morton’s, you may inadvertently intake too much iodine.
OPTIONS FOR INCREASING SODIUM:
- Sodium chloride tablets: My doctor at Vanderbilt’s Autonomic Dysfunction Center prescribed these for me, or you can order them online. I was taking 1,000 mg tablets, which were very handy, but the impact of that much salt on my stomach often led to trouble….
- Nuun tablets, Thermotabs, etc: These can be added to water and give you a good kick of sodium. I like to keep Emergen-C packets in my purse, because they can easily be added to water with an extra tsp of salt and still be drinkable.
- Salty foods: Some POTSies eat pickles, then drink the juice, and I’ll definitely slurp up some olive juice with the olives I love. Deli meats, prepackaged frozen meals, cans of soup, etc, are all full of sodium. Just be sure to count milligrams!
- Salty drinks: Drinks with electrolytes like Gatorade or coconut water have some sodium and can handle more salt. I often drink tomato juice mid-morning and chicken broth mid-afternoon.
- Sole (pronounced so-lay): This is a highly concentrated salt solution made with Himalayan sea salt. It claims to cure many, many ailments and is recommended to be drunk each morning 30 minutes before you eat. I’ve been making and drinking this for a couple months, and I don’t notice a huge difference compared to what I’d been doing, but then again, I was already taking in a lot of salt.
You know I like pretty things. Just last week, a friend gave me this adorable bag specfically for holding the salt packets that were in an old metal tin in my purse. What a great gift (and very useful)!
Do you like salty foods or do you have more of a sweet tooth?