A to Z diet guide for POTS syndrome and dysautonomia, with 26 dietary tips that helped ease my symptoms and improve my health.
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Navigating life with chronic illness like POTS and dysautonomia can be difficult. Dietary changes are one of the first most common recommendations to help manage symptoms. Below is an A to Z guide with the 26 strategies that helped me ease my symptoms and improve my health. Disclaimer: this is not intended as medical advice, I’m simply sharing the diet changes which helped me. Every individual is unique and the best diet for POTS will vary for each person. Please consult a qualified practitioner before making any changes to your current diet and treatment plan.
Related Post: Dysautonomia & POTS (Facts, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment)
A to Z POTS Diet Guide
A – Activate Nuts and Seeds Before Eating
Nuts and seeds are high in phytic acid which can make them more difficult to digest, increase the risk of digestive issues like nausea and boosting after eating them, damage our gut and bind to nutrients in our food preventing our bodies from being able to absorb them, which can lead to deficiencies in the long term (1, 2, 3). Activating them, by soaking them in warm salt water before eating them, deactivates and reduces the antinutrients to make them easier to digest and releases the nutrients to maximise the amount our body absorbs (1, 2, 3). This Activate Nuts and Seeds post has step by step instructions for how to activate each individual type of nut and seed.
Related Post: Activate Nuts & Seeds (Step By Step Instructions & Benefits)
B – Blend foods if struggling with digestive symptoms
Blending food in a food processor or blender, like when making smoothies, smoothies bowls, soups and dips, does the first part of digestion for you by helping to break down fibre to make the food easier to digest. This eases stress and the amount of work our digestive tract has to do, which can help ease digestive complaints like nausea after eating. Example recipes doing this are this Thick Mixed Berry Chaga Smoothie Bowl, Root Vegetable Soup and Sprouted Lemon Dill Hummus. This may be especially useful in the morning when symptoms can be typically worse.
Related Post: 7 Step Morning Routine To Ease POTS Symptoms
C – Consume Fulvic & Humic Acid
The soil our food is grown in now is depleted of the nutrients that they used to be grown in years ago due to the increase in the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. Fulvic and humic acid replenishes these nutrients that have been depleted and are missing in our food, containing over 70 amino acids, trace minerals and antioxidants that are easily absorbed and utilised by the body to help support the immune system, boost energy, improve gut health, reduce inflammation and assist the body in removing harmful heavy metals and toxins (4, 5). Morningstar Minerals, Vital Earth Minerals and Advanced TRS are example brands.
D – Decrease size of meals in the short term & eat more often
When we eat blood and energy is diverted from maintaining our blood pressure and heart rate to our digestive system to digest food, which can worsen symptoms (6). Reducing the size of meals and eating more frequently instead of 3 large meals a day can help minimise this in the short term (6).
E – Eat Seasonally
Eating seasonally involves varying our diet to consume foods at the same time of year they’re able to be grown locally rather than shipped from other countries in the world. In season locally grown foods provide our body with the specific nutrients we need during each time of year, are higher in nutrients and lower in harmful toxins and pesticides (7, 8, 9). This Eat The Seasons post has a month by month guide, with the in season fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices for each month of the year.
Related Post: Eat The Seasons (Month By Month Guide)
F – Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain live beneficial bacteria (10). Consuming these foods increase the good bacteria in our gut, where 80% of our immune system is, and can aid digestion (10). Improving gut health can help ease symptoms like fatigue and headaches (11, 12, 13). You can easily make fermented foods at home like this Fermented Red Cabbage Sauerkraut. Alternatively, you can buy the following ones online:-
- Water kefir
- Coconut milk kefir (I consumed this in moderation due to the higher saturated fat content)
Related Post: Fermented Red Cabbage Sauerkraut Recipe
G – Grow & Eat Microgreens & Sprouts
These contain up to 40 times the nutrients of regular vegetables (14). You can buy sprouts and microgreens from supermarkets or alternatively to save money you can grow a range of them yourself at home, such as:-
H – Herbal Teas
Herbal teas have a range of health benefits (15). Different types have been shown to help ease symptoms and be the best teas for digestion, gut health, supporting the liver and sleep etc. You can make your own herbal teas at home like this Homemade Liver Detox Tea and Deep Sleep Tea Recipe.
Related Post: Best Teas For Digestion & Gut Health
I – Identify Food Sensitivities
Consuming foods we’re sensitive to can increase inflammation and contribute to and worsen symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches and digestive problems (16, 17). Identifying and removing foods from our diet that we’re sensitive to has been shown to provide relief (18, 19, 20, 21).
Elimination diets are the most commonly recommended way of identifying any food allergies and sensitivities we have. Elimination diets first involve following Elimination Diet Phase 1, where you remove common food allergies from your diet for at least 28 days, and then moving onto Elimination Diet Phase 2 where you follow this How To Reintroduce Foods After Elimination Diet protocol, reintroducing one food at a time and monitoring how you feel.
Related Posts: Elimination Diet Phase 1 & How To Reintroduce Foods After Elimination Diet
J – Juice Every Morning
The volume of vegetables used to make juices is significantly higher than the amount we can eat. Juices, therefore, provide our bodies with a large concentrated source of nutrients which are easily consumed and absorbed, especially on an empty stomach. They’re also full of electrolytes which helps keep us hydrated to help ease symptoms (22). I consume a green juice first thing in the morning, 30 minutes before eating breakfast. One of my favourites is this Fennel Juice Recipe, made with ingredients that are especially beneficial for improving digestion.
Related Post: Fennel Juice Recipe (Green Juice For Digestion)
K – Keep Hydrated
Consuming 2-3 litres of liquid daily is recommended to help manage symptoms (23). Rather than consuming plain water it’s recommended to add minerals and electrolytes to fluids to help our body retain the liquid we drink to optimise hydration. So I add either fulvic acid, lemon juice, lime juice or coconut water to plain water or, alternatively, combine the ingredients to make this homemade electrolyte drink for POTS. This POTS Hydration post has 9 tips to help stay hydrated, including the specific drinks to consume and avoid, the best time to consume fluids and the foods that can aid hydration.
Related Posts: Best Electrolyte Drink For POTS & POTS Hydration – 9 Tips To Stay Hydrated
L – Last Meal 3 Hours Before Bed
Foods can take up to 3 hours to be fully digested (24). Having a smaller amount of time before finishing eating can impair sleep as our digestive system will still be working to break down and absorb nutrients from our food rather than resting, and potentially cause digestive problems like acid reflux, heartburn, indigestion, bloating and nausea as food can remain in the stomach for longer and any undigested food travel back from the stomach to the throat (25, 26).
Related Post: 5 Step Nighttime Routine To Sleep Better (That Doesn’t Cost Anything)
M – Monitor What You Read, Watch & Listen To
When people think of diet they typically think of the foods and drinks we consume. However, what absorb from our other senses, with what we read, watch and listen to can impact our health just as much. Therefore, as well as making a meal plan to stay hydrated and nourish my body with nutrient dense anti-inflammatory foods, my diet plan also includes daily habits to improve mental health, ensuring what I read, watch and listen to each day are also things that are positive and make me feel good, especially first thing in the morning when waking up with anxiety and increased symptoms are common.
Related Post: 6 Daily Habits To Improve Mental Health & 5 Simple Swaps To Ease Morning Anxiety
N – Nutrient Dense Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Eating a variety of foods that nourish our body with a high amount of different vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and antioxidants can reduce inflammation, help balance hormones and blood sugar levels and support the immune system (27, 28). The most commonly recommended foods are (27, 28, 29):-
- Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale, rocket/arugula, watercress etc.
- Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage.
- Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries.
- Omega 3 anti-inflammatory fats – oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts.
- Beans and legumes – aduki, black, cannelloni, chickpeas, haricot, kidney, lentils, pinto etc.
- Spices – ginger, garlic, turmeric, ceylon cinnamon.
O – Organic Food
Regular conventional foods are grown using artificial chemical pesticides and fertilisers, while farmed fish and regular meat contain antibiotics and hormones, which can all increase inflammation and negatively affect our health, such as causing skin, digestive, nervous system, breathing and hormonal problems (30). Organic food is grown without artificial pesticides and fertilisers, while wild caught fish and organic meat are free from antibiotics and hormones (31). Organic and wild caught foods are also higher in nutrients, lower in toxins and heavy metals and fresher (31, 32).
Organic food can be expensive, so for fruits and vegetables I focus on buying organic produce on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List, where the levels of chemical pesticides and fertilisers are higher, and buy regular conventional products on the Clean 15 List, where the levels of these toxic pesticides are lower. For beans, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds and dried herbs and spices, as these have a long shelf life, I buy these organic items in bulk as this works out cheaper.
(Contain The Most Pesticides)
(Contain The Fewest Pesticides)
|1). Strawberries||1). Avocados|
|2). Spinach||2). Sweetcorn|
|3). Kale, collard greens & mustard greens||3). Pineapple|
|4). Nectarines||4). Onions|
|5). Apples||5). Papaya|
|6). Grapes||6). Sweet peas|
|7). Peppers||7). Asparagus|
|8). Cherries||8). Honeydew melon|
|9). Peaches||9). Kiwi|
|10). Pears||10). Cabbage|
|11). Celery||11). Mushrooms|
|12). Tomatoes||12). Cantaloupe|
|15). Sweet potatoes|
Related Post: 10 Tips For A Non Toxic Kitchen
P – Practice Mindful Eating
Activating the vagus nerve before eating, avoiding distractions like watching the tv, scrolling on our phone or talking while eating and instead focussing fully on each mouthful and chewing each one thoroughly until liquid before swallowing are simple ways to improve digestion naturally. The ensures we’re in a parasympathetic state when eating, which increases the digestive enzymes produced to optimise the break down, digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food and minimise the risk of digestive problems like nausea, gas and bloating (33, 34, 35).
Related Post: 10 Tips To Improve Digestion Naturally
Q – Quit Caffeine & Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which dehydrate us, while caffeine stimulates the nervous system which increases heart and breathing rates, potentially worsening symptoms (36, 37).
Related Post: POTS Hydration – 9 Tips To Stay Hydrated
R – Raw Foods, Especially Before Cooked Foods
Raw foods include the following which have not been cooked or processed before eating:-
- Sprouted beans and legumes,
- Certain whole grains like buckwheat and oats
- Fresh herbs and spices,
- Fermented foods.
Raw foods contain live digestive enzymes which help digest and absorb nutrients from our food (38). This reduces the amount of enzymes our body has to produce and the work our digestive system has to do to break down and absorb nutrients (39). Our body is constantly working to heal and regenerate, digest and absorb nutrients from our food and remove harmful toxins and chemicals from our body. As digestion requires a large amount of energy, consuming raw foods allows the body to focus more energy on removing harmful toxins and healing and regenerating (39). Raw fruits and vegetables also contain a high water content (75-95%) and are high in vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to help keep us hydrated and stay cool in hot summer temperatures, which can help ease symptoms (40).
Cooking destroys these digestive enzymes, reduces certain nutrients and reduces the water content, with higher cooking temperatures and longer cooking times associate with a greater decrease (16). However, cooked foods can also increase the availability of other nutrients and make them easier to digest. They also help keep us warm during winter. Steaming is one of the best cooking methods as this maintains a larger amount of nutrients due to the lower heat and shorter cooking times involved (19, 20, 21).
When eating cooked foods, it’s recommended to eat raw foods first. Scientist Udo Erasmus found that when we eat cooked foods it produces an immune response similar to when we’re fighting a virus and infection, causing a fever like increase in temperature in the stomach and digestive system, which can increase fatigue after eating (39). When raw foods are consumed first, this immune response doesn’t take place (39).
Example raw food meals include:-
Related Post: POTS Heat Intolerance (10 Tips To Keep Cool)
S – Sprout Beans, Legumes & Whole Grains Before Eating
Like nuts and seeds, the regular beans, legumes and grains we buy from shops contain anti-nutrients, which can damage the gut, cause digestive problems after eating them and bind to nutrients to prevent our body absorbing them (41). Soaking and sprouting them before eating them deactivates and reduces the antinutrients, maximises the digestive enzymes and nutrient content, makes them easier to digest and optimises the amount of nutrients our body absorbs (42). You can easily sprout them at home like in these How To Sprout Chickpeas and How To Sprout Buckwheat posts.
Related Posts: How To Sprout Chickpeas & How To Sprout Buckwheat
T – Thirty Different Plant Foods Each Week
80% of our immune system is in our gut (43). One factor which has one of the biggest influence on gut health is the number of plant foods we consume (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices) (44). It’s recommended to eat at least 30 different plant foods each week to optimise gut health (45). This Eating 30 Plants A Week post has 8 tips and a checklist to help you consume this amount and achieve this target.
Related Post: Eating 30 Plants A Week (8 Tips, Checklist & Benefits)
U – Up or reduce salt intake depending on type of pots you have
For those with hypoadrenic POTS, it’s recommended to increase your salt intake as this helps to increase your blood pressure and reduce the increase in heart rate when standing (46). In addition to adding Celtic sea salt, (this is preferred to table salt as it’s less processed and contains more nutrients), the following foods are naturally high in sodium:-
For those with hyperadrenic POTS, where your blood pressure goes up as well as your heart rate, it’s recommended to reduce your salt intake (47).
V – Vinegar
Vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable by slowing the breakdown and release of carbohydrates to reduce the spike in blood sugar levels by up to 30% after eating (48, 49). Keeping our blood sugar level stable can help ease increase in symptoms after eating and also increases energy levels, balances hormones and improves sleep and mood (50). Apple cider vinegar with the mother (UK Link/US Link) is my favourite as this contains probiotics that feed the good bacteria in the gut, where 80% of our immune system is located (51). You can add this to warm lemon water and consume 30 minutes before meals, or add 1 tablespoon on top of foods as a dressing.
W – Warm Lemon Water 30 Minutes Before Meals
Lemon water increases the production of digestive enzymes which helps our body digest and absorb nutrients from our food (52). It’s recommended after finishing this glass 30 minutes before meals to not consume any other fluids until an hour after meals. Drinking liquids with or near foods dilutes digestive enzymes which impairs digestion and cause can digestive complaints like nausea, bloating and acid reflux (52). It also increases the rate glucose moves into our blood, increasing the spike in blood sugar levels after eating, which can increase heart rates and worsen symptoms (53, 54).
Related Post: 10 Tips To Improve Digestion Naturally
X – Remove Processed Foods, Refined Sugar & Vegetable Oils
These foods increase inflammation and spike an increase in blood sugar levels which can worsen symptoms (55). You can Eat Well by making healthy food swaps include replacing refined sugar with sweet freedom syrup for sweetening drinks and mashed banana and apple sauce for baked goods and replacing vegetable oils with avocado or coconut oil. You can also make healthy nutrient dense versions of your favourite meals and foods at home that are free from refined sugar, artificial ingredients and major allergens, such as:-
- Dairy Free Chocolates (although made for Christmas, any chocolate molds can be used to enjoy these chocolates any time of year)
Related Post: Eat Well – 20 Healthy Food & Drink Swaps
Y – Yellow, Green, Blue,
Brown & Red Foods aka Eat The Rainbow
Each different coloured foods contains different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols which support the immune system and different functions in the body (56, 57). Therefore, I aim to eat the rainbow each day like in this Rainbow Nourish Bowl, selecting fruits and vegetables from each colour. The following coloured foods have the following benefits:-
- Red – immune system and heart health
- Apples, beetroot, cranberries, pomegranate, raspberries, red cabbage, red chicory, red grapes, red onion, strawberries
- Green – bone, cardiovascular, tooth and digestive health
- Asparagus, apple, avocado, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, green beans, kale, kiwi, peas, pears, rocket/arugula, spinach
- Yellow/Orange – eye, skin, digestive, endocrine, hormonal and reproductive health
- Apricots, banana, butternut squash, carrots, clementines, kumquats, mango, oranges, papaya, passionfruit, m peach, persimmon, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potato
- Blue/Purple – brain and heart health
- Blackberries, blueberries, figs, plums
- White/Brown – heart and immune system health
- Cauliflower, celeriac, garlic, jerusalem artichokes, leeks, mushrooms, parsnip, white onion
Z- Zone Diet Principles
For every meal and snack pair carbohydrates with protein and fat and include non starchy vegetables where possible. Protein and fat and the fibre from vegetables slows the rate carbohydrates are absorbed, which helps to keep our blood sugar stable and by preventing large spikes after eating (58, 59).
Protein sources include:-
Fat sources include:-
- Olive or coconut oil
The order we eat foods in can also significantly affect our blood sugar response. Where possible, eat vegetables, protein and fat before carbohydrates as this minimises the spike in blood sugar levels by up to 73% after eating compared to eating carbohydrates first followed by vegetables, protein and fat (58, 59). For example:-
- Make a small salad to eat before starting a main meal,
- If having a roast dinner eat the vegetables and protein before potatoes,
- If having walnuts and grapes as a snack, eat the walnuts before the grapes.
Other Natural POTS Treatments
A multi factor holistic approach is what I found most beneficial for easing my symptoms and regaining my health:-
- Activating the vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system by using these simple vagus nerve exercises and vagus nerve acupressure points.
- Prioritising rest by following my 5 step nighttime routine to sleep better and making time to rest well by implementing the 7 different types of rest our body needs to fully recharge, heal, regenerate and become stronger.
- Adopting a low toxin lifestyle, implementing changes to reduce my exposure to everyday harmful toxins and chemicals, such as these 6 free ways to start non toxic living, 15 simple swaps for a chemical free home and 10 tips for a non toxic kitchen.
- Breath retraining using Buteyko breathing to optimise my breathing mechanics.
- Caring for my mental health by implementing these 6 daily habits to improve mental health, performing a brain dump journal to release built up emotions and thoughts and altering my morning routine making five simple swaps to help when waking up with anxiety and increased symptoms in the morning.
- Supporting the body’s 6 detox channels to aid the removal of harmful toxins, waste products and chemicals as detailed in this How To Open Drainage Pathways post.
- Expressing gratitude by implementing these 8 Gratitude Journaling Ideas and using this A to Z Gratitude List to help.
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