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Sarah Wilson's Secret to Managing Her Hashimoto's + Unprocessed Host Clara's Long Road to Diagnosis

I Quit Sugar founder Sarah Wilson unpacks her top tips and tricks for managing Hashimoto's disease, while Unprocessed host Clara Mearns has unveiled her own brush with the thyroid condition in the latest episode of the podcast, revealing how dismissive doctors delayed her diagnosis. Here are their insights and what they want you to know about the complicated world of autoimmunity. 

“A Hashimoto’s flare feels like being pre-menstrual, with two (or five) hangovers tossed into the mix, plus a dose of food poisoning and a mysterious rash sprinkled on top,” Sarah says.

At the age of 34, author, IQS founder and media presenter Sarah Wilson was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s after suffering from chronic fatigue and gut issues. 15 years later she's still finding new ways to battle the symptoms.

“It was a devastating diagnosis, especially because the condition can only be managed, not cured. Hashimoto’s took a huge toll on my body – my hair fell out, and I couldn’t walk for a year,” Sarah wrote. “Most awful of all, a doctor told me that I would never have children.”

I Quit Sugar’s own Clara has also struggled with the confusing and varied symptoms of Hashimoto’s that left her at a loss as to what was behind it all – and her doctors showed little interest in investigating.  

“I had endometriosis was confirmed through my surgery in July, it was stage 3 and quite severe,” Clara shared on the podcast. “Some of the symptoms I’ve been feeling are fatigue, I’ve also been having these flare-ups of peeling skin on my fingers, my hair has been falling out – I’ve had all these different symptoms and I’ve never sat down with anyone and said ‘here it all is’, until recently.”

Clara’s certainly not alone here with her symptoms – fatigue is a major marker for Hashimoto’s, and it’s a result of thyroid dysfunction where we see a decrease in hormone production, specifically the thyroid hormones which are responsible for proper metabolism function. Women are disproportionately affected here, with a shocking 10:1 ratio of women to men, with a concerning trend for late diagnoses of the condition – in fact, women are usually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s between the ages of 30 and 50, which means the condition’s severity will have multiplied.

The IQS manager sat down with Sheradyn, our 21-Day Gut Rebalance Program expert functional nutritionist, to get to the bottom of her symptoms. The health expert was the first person to flag Hashimoto’s as a possible cause – and after years of confusing health issues, Clara says she was relieved to finally have someone listen and investigate the root problem.

“That just rung bells with me – I’ve always had peeling and flaking feet with excess skin, and that’s what Sarah said she had. I thought it was just me,” she says. “I went to the doctor and I forced them to do the test, I ended up having the markers for Hashimoto’s.

“I asked for the full results and throughout the lab comments were an issue with iron – which is common in people with Hashimoto’s – another is an issue with insulin, and my thyroid antibodies were severely high – yet the doctor wrote the results are reassuring.” 

Unfortunately for so many people, their symptoms go overlooked and their results are poorly explained – Clara even points out that she had a similar result in 2021, but her doctor never mentioned it as a problem. With her prior endometriosis diagnosis, she knows that “autoimmune conditions love company,” so you would hope medical professionals would be well-versed in that area – and yet, just like Clara and Sarah, research shows people with Hashimoto’s are likely to be diagnosed late into the disease’s progression.

What exactly is Hashimoto’s?

There’s an estimated 850, 000 Aussies living with Hashimoto’s disease, affecting 7.5% of women and 1.5% of men. This autoimmune disorder specifically affects the thyroid, and it comes about when our immune system targets this butterfly-shaped gland in our neck. Here's where the problem arises: this thyroid inflammation can result in a leak, which then leads to the overproduction of hormones – this is what’s known as hyperthyroidism – but with Hashimoto’s, we see a table-turning change over time. The thyroid eventually struggles to produce adequate levels of hormones, causing the development hypothyroidism. What you end up with is a host of debilitating and painful symptoms.

Many people with Hashimoto’s struggle with weight gain that can feel almost impossible to shift – some have done everything from eating healthily to exercising frequently, but see no change on the scales. The reason for this particularly stubborn weight gain is down to the thyroid – this gland plays an essential role in our metabolism, so when things go a little pear-shaped with its hormone production, we start to see some out-of-control changes to our weight. This dysfunction can impair our ability to burn fat, so if this is something you’ve been struggling with, it’s likely a thyroid disorder is at play. It’s worth noting that it’s not hopeless – there are medications that aid with balancing hormones, along with diet and lifestyle changes that can reduce inflammation, and therefore increase your chance of combatting this frustrating symptom. Cold sensitivity, goitres, hair loss, skin problems, bloating and constipation are all signs of the condition as well – you’ll notice how varied the signs can be, and it’s why it’s so important for doctors to piece the puzzle together rather than leaving people to figure things out on their own, much like Clara was left to do after being dismissed by her doctor.

“I didn’t know what the results meant and had no idea how to change this – what I now understand is the results show this is the best time to do something about it before it gets too bad,” she says. 

Living with Hashimoto's

In her own words, Sarah describes a Hashimoto's flare as feeling like "being pre-menstrual”, describing it as a "full-time job.” "Having Hashi's means having a hectic digestion," she explains. The IQS founder has compiled a number of effect strategies to manage the challenges of the condition, recommending a strong focus on nutrition.

"I eat adequate fibre, but nothing too fibrous...nuts and legumes don't work for me; they tend to irritate, rather than stimulate good flow,” she says. "I take magnesium citrate every works as a stool softener and irritable leg calmer all in one."

Sarah’s not alone here – restless legs are a common sign of Hashimoto’s, and this is because the disease can affect the nervous system due to hormonal imbalances. Fluctuations in thyroid hormone levels can influence nerve function and contribute to symptoms like restless legs that make it near impossible to get off to sleep. But it can also be linked to iron-deficiency anaemia, to which Hashimoto’s sufferers are susceptible, and it’s a known trigger for restless legs. Magnesium is a powerful nutrient to combat these effects, and it works in a number of ways: 

Muscle Relaxation: Magnesium is essential for muscle function and relaxation. Adequate magnesium levels in the body can help alleviate muscle cramps and spasms, which are common symptoms of restless legs syndrome.

Improved Sleep: Restless legs symptoms often worsen at night, making it challenging to sleep. Magnesium can help relax the muscles and improve sleep quality by reducing the urge to move the legs.

Nerve Function: Magnesium is involved in nerve transmission and can help calm overactive nerves, potentially reducing the uncomfortable sensations associated with restless legs.

Sarah recognises a strong link between autoimmune issues and the gut, sharing, "Many practitioners agree that autoimmune problems stem from – or at least can be healed from – the intestinal tract."

To support her gut health, Sarah says she eats “ferments, kombucha, and collagen.”

"I often have one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar 30 minutes before meals to help stimulate digestion."

Supplements, Herbs + Strategies

"Stabilise the autoimmunity with Selenium; a powerful antioxidant mineral that supports the regulation of thyroid function,” Sarah recommends, adding, “Zinc is one of the most important minerals for immune does a balancing dance with copper, iron, and other co-factors."

The health guru also highlights the importance of iron in keeping your Hashimoto’s under control – and this is because this nutrient plays an essential role in a number of thyroid-related functions. 

  • Thyroid Hormone Production: Iron is a vital component of thyroid hormone synthesis. The thyroid gland uses iron to convert iodide into the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Without sufficient iron, the thyroid gland may struggle to produce these hormones effectively.
  • Transport of Thyroid Hormones: Iron is essential for the transport of thyroid hormones throughout the body. Thyroid hormones bind to proteins in the blood, and these carrier proteins require iron to function correctly. Inadequate iron levels can result in inefficient hormone transportation.
  • Thyroid Peroxidase Function: It sounds complicated, but thyroid peroxidase is simply an enzyme involved in the production of thyroid hormones – and iron is needed for its proper functioning. In individuals with Hashimoto's, the presence of thyroid antibodies can lead to inflammation and damage to the thyroid gland, making it even more critical to support the enzyme's activity with sufficient iron.
  • Energy Production: Thyroid hormones regulate the body's metabolism, which includes the conversion of food into energy. Iron supports this energy production process. When iron levels are low, individuals may experience fatigue and low energy levels, which are common symptoms in people with Hashimoto's.

Sarah also shares a few unconventional yet effective strategies to alleviate Hashimoto's symptoms, writing that "Thai massage is the's no-fuss and it works to trigger points."

She’s got a few more tricks up her sleeve for those of you struggling with the distressing symptoms of Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune conditions:

  • Infrared therapy like yoga and saunas
  • Mini rebounding trampolines: “They can vigorously circulate lymphatic flow."
  • Spending time in nature
  • Dandelion and chamomile tea
  • Vitamin D – if you’re not getting enough of this vitamin you’ll notice all manner of problems arise, from autoimmunity to fatigue. 

“SCENAR therapy is one of the weirder works for me on my restless legs,” Sarah adds.

SCENAR therapy, which stands for "Self-Controlled Energo-Neuro Adaptive Regulation" therapy, is a type of bioelectronic therapy that uses a handheld device to deliver electrical impulses to the body. It was initially developed for medical purposes, particularly for pain management, and can be used to address conditions like restless legs syndrome (RLS). Here's how SCENAR therapy can be useful:

Pain Management: SCENAR therapy is known for its ability to manage various types of pain, including the discomfort associated with RLS. The device emits electrical impulses that stimulate the body's own adaptive mechanisms, providing pain relief and promoting healing.

Nerve Stimulation: RLS is characterised by an uncomfortable sensation in the legs, often described as crawling, tingling, or itching, which is relieved by movement. SCENAR therapy involves using specific electrical impulses that stimulate nerves and may help alleviate these sensations.

Promoting Circulation: RLS symptoms can be exacerbated by poor blood circulation, and since SCENAR therapy is thought to improve blood flow, it can help reduce the symptoms of RLS by providing better oxygen and nutrient delivery to the affected areas.

Keen to reduce inflammation and reduce the severity of autoimmune diseases? What you put on your plate has a major sway over your health. Sugar is a known inflammatory substance, responsible for triggering or worsening a host of conditions, from obesity to eczema. That’s why we’re here to help. Join us for the 8-Week Program where we’ll be quitting sugar and turning our health dreams into a reality. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums to share your journey.
  4. Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
  5. Exclusive content from our panel of experts.

So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to JOIN NOW!

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