If you have POTS, chances are, you need to eat more salt! And I mean, wayyy more salt! If you’re anything like me, you may have been wary of eating too much salt because we are constantly warned of the health dangers that come with consuming high sodium diets. While this is true for most people, POTS patients are the exception.
The truth is, adopting a high salt diet is a basic lifestyle change for POTS patients to improve their symptoms. How easy–and inexpensive–of a change is that?!
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Why Is a High Salt Diet Beneficial For POTS Patients?
A high salt diet for POTS treatment is crucial because it increases both blood volume and blood pressure when paired with increased fluid intake. This simple fix can alleviate many of the symptoms that POTS patients experience daily, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, fatigue, and brain fog. Such symptoms are ones I’ll feel when my blood pressure is too low. Eating salt with a full glass of water is a relatively quick fix for me!
Salty Foods Perfect for POTSies
Fortunately, there are plenty of foods out there packed with sodium for you to eat. So, eating a high salt diet for POTS treatment is not too difficult! Be mindful, though, that not all of them are the healthiest choices, like processed or frozen foods. Below are some examples of high sodium foods that are super helpful for POTS patients to eat:
- Bacon/turkey bacon
- Soy sauce/hot sauce/buffalo sauce/salad dressing (most sauces, really)
- Pretzels, crackers
- Salted nuts
- Bread, bagels
- Cold cuts
- Canned beans (regular sodium)
- Electrolyte drinks such as Pedialyte, Liquid I.V., Gatorade, Powerade, etc. are helpful
- Other processed and/or frozen foods (Although, try to limit these, as they aren’t very high in nutritive value.)
Tips For Eating a Saltier Diet
According to the Cleveland Clinic, POTS patients should consume between 3,000-10,000 mg of sodium per day, depending on what your doctor recommends for you.
FYI, 1 tsp of table salt (which is a combo of sodium and chloride) is equivalent to approximately 2,325 mg of sodium.
Say, for example, your doctor tells you to eat about 4,000 mg of sodium/day. Let’s also say that you recorded your food intake for a week, and you discovered that you consumed on average 2,800 mg of sodium/day from foods. You still needed about 1,200 mg of sodium to hit your daily quota! That’s roughly another 1/2 tsp of salt!
So, here’s a neat trick an exercise physiologist told me for keeping track of this extra sodium intake: Measure out the number of teaspoons of extra salt you need for the day and keep it in either a plastic baggy, a reusable container, or whatever else you have handy. (I reuse a salad dressing to-go cup.) Take it with you wherever you go and sprinkle it over your meals as tolerated. It’s a great visual reminder of how much salt you have to eat throughout the day!
Adding a ton of salt to food isn’t always appetizing. Obviously, adding salt to spaghetti isn’t going to be as pleasant as, say, adding salt to a broth. For me, it’s easiest to add more salt to soups, eggs, rice, potatoes, and cooked protein (chicken, steak, etc.). But as your taste buds adapt, it will get easier for you to tolerate the extra-salty flavor of your food.
However, if you find you’re struggling to eat your required amount of sodium each day–because let’s be real, it’s a lot–then you may want to consider buying salt pills to help the process along. I don’t use them myself because I get enough salt from my diet or from electrolyte drinks like LiquidIV. However, I have heard excellent things about SaltStick Vitassium Buffered Electrolyte Salt Capsules working well for other POTS patients who need very high amounts of sodium daily. Just make sure you take them with food, as they can upset your stomach if it’s empty!
Reminders when eating a high salt diet for POTS treatment
Remember to keep drinking lots of water and fluids as you increase the amount of salt you eat. You’ll also want to monitor your blood pressure daily to check how your body reacts to these changes. Make sure to update your doctor with any changes to your blood pressure–whether it’s too low, too high, or within normal limits. A healthy range for blood pressure is between 90-120 for systolic and 60-80 for diastolic.
*Also, please note that if you have the hyperadrenergic form of POTS, eating more salt may not be good for you. This form of POTS can cause high blood pressure, and more salt will exacerbate that. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet!
What are some of your go-to high sodium foods? Share below! Plus, check out other lifestyle changes and treatment tips for living with POTS!
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