Rehydrating? Don't forget your Electrolytes!
For people with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) or Dysautonomia, a key part of symptom control is maintaining your blood volume & blood pressure. So it's really important to keep your fluids and electrolytes up, but just plain water doesn't replenish the electrolytes that are lost. In fact, drinking water alone can actually dilute or water down the body’s normal electrolyte balance. Also, does anyone else notice that when they’re trying to rehydrate they have to pee a lot more? This is because rehydrating on water alone doesn’t actually stimulate water to be retained in the body, it just creates a more frequent water output (i.e. lots of toilet trips). Electrolytes, like salt (I’m sure everyone with POTS is sick of being told to have lots of salt), stimulate the body to retain water, and by doing this they increase the blood volume and restore the body’s natural electrolyte balance. So it's also essential to maintain not just your fluid intake, but your electrolyte levels as well.
I've done a lot of research in the types of electrolyte drinks out there, and the best one I've found is a brand called Aqualyte. It was originally developed after years of research on the effects of dehydration in the Australian mining industry. Aqualyte has been formulated based on the findings of this research (http://aqualyte.com.au/the-science/) that primarily looked at the composition of sweat, sweating rates, thermoregulation and the effects on health and performance. These results aren’t just applicable to underground miners, and are especially relevant to POTS.
I find that I feel my worst when my blood pressure starts to drop – I feel nauseous, get a hot flush then start to see colours and feel very dizzy (you know, all the usual autonomic symptoms). The trouble that I’ve had in the past is that electrolyte drinks like Powerade and Gatorade make me feel sick from the high amounts of sugar. I also tried Hydralyte for a while, but found it's taste too artificial. Aqualyte tastes much more pure and I find it way easier to drink, hence it's easy to stay hydrated / rehydrate! Below is a comparison of sugar levels in Aqualyte, Gatorade and Powerade (I went off the info from the orange flavour of each)
Powerade: 7.3g per serve (600mL)
Gatorade: 6g per serve (600mL)
Aqualyte: 3.7g per serve (600mL)
So Aqualyte has ~50% less sugar than Powerade and ~38% less sugar than Gatorade. Some sugar (glucose) is necessary for effective rapid dehydration - it depends on the co-transport of glucose and sodium through the small intestine. Drinks with higher sugar concentrations can lead to bloating and delayed stomach emptying, which is especially not good for people (like me) who already has issues with digestion.
Aqualyte comes in two flavours: orange and lemon lime. They come in 3 different size packets – one that makes 600mL (good to have on hand to put in water bottles), 2L (we have a 2L jug on the bench in my kitchen and just pour glasses from that) or one that’s for sports clubs that makes 20L. They offer a sample pack with 10 x sachets (that make 600mL) for only $5!
And if you order online, at checkout enter coupon code ‘pots’ (lower-case) for a mini discount! *note: discount does not apply to the sample pack.
All details on the website, you can order through their online store (and get the discount – yay!) or they have info on stores that stock them. If you order online there's an option of delivery too, they can deliver it straight to your door!