A few weeks ago I went away for a 3-day weekend. It was my first trip away from home since I became enamored of fermented food. I did not plan well and took along only 2 cups of yogurt.
When I got home — and resumed my usual high fermented-food intake — I seemed to have a very mild cold. That was unusual; I almost never get detectable colds. Even more unusual was that I had a small case of athlete’s foot. Uh-oh. I planned to but some anti-fungal cream. I forgot, however. The next day, to my surprise, my athlete’s foot was almost gone. The following days it cleared up completely.
I had not had athlete’s foot for a long time. In the past, however, it did not go away by itself. I had had to use antifungal cream. Now, apparently, my immune system was working much better.
My interpretation is that during that weekend away, my immune function took a sudden dip. Perhaps part of the reason was that I did not sleep as well as usual but I suspect most of the reason was the decrease in my fermented-food intake.
Whatever the reason I got athlete’s foot that weekend, the fact that it went away without any special treatment suggests that all that anti-fungal cream in the drugstore implies that many Americans have suboptimal immune function. The Wikipedia entry for athlete’s foot says nothing about good immune function as a means of prevention. As if the hundred-odd people who wrote the article had no idea that what happened to me — it went away on its own — could happen. We are in the pre-John-Snow era here. The most basic practical point about athlete’s foot — you won’t get it if your immune system is working well — isn’t widely understood.
If you read Example 5 of my long self-experimentation paper, you will see that I used to get ordinary colds at an ordinary rate but after I started sleeping much better they stopped. Which points to the same conclusion as the incident I described here: A large fraction of Americans have suboptimal immune function. Some people will say: “Of course!” But they will go on to say, “The average American eats so much junk!” And I think that’s wrong. I think the problem is 1. Poor sleep. 2. Too little fermented food. The self-confident nutritionista will never mention either one.