You have been pooping wrong for all of your life. Well, maybe not all of it. You likely squatted to poop when you were a baby. Be that a behind-the-sofa squat whilst you let it go into your nappy or a squat down to reach your potty. You likely pooped just as nature intended for a while. That is until you were told to do something different and you were trained to use the modern toilet.
As this blog is aimed at those of us 40 upwards this is the sort of time we start to see real problems from these small imperfections – fortunately, this one is easy remedied and you simply have to lift your feet and lean forwards to emulate a more natural squatting position when you do your business.
The Pooping Particulars
Modern science has shown us what mother nature knew all along and that we should squat down to poop. There are plenty of studies out there that discuss the why and for those of you interested in the dirty details then the book Gut by Julia Enders gives the most comprehensive overview I have seen to date.
Let me give you the skinny version: Your gut has a mechanism that is designed to open when you squat. The best analogy I have seen to date is that of a kinked garden hose. The hose may have a lot of pressure behind it but the ‘kink’ prevents the water (poo) getting out. This is by design and helps us keep our poo where it needs to be most of the time. The problem comes when we sit on a normal toilet we are not removing the kink and we are having to increase the pressure to get the water (poop) out.
Why this matters
Well, it’s nice to go and just go – if you know what I mean. None of us want to spend forever on the toilet (well, I hide from the kids in there sometimes). It’s also nice to get everything out and really do your business. But, there are also some health benefits beyond simply having a really satisfying poop.
- Constipation – fairly common issue where a lack of fibre and water combined with poor toilet posture leads to a build up that simply won’t go. Ensuring a good position and getting your diet dialled in keeps constipation at bay.
- Piles – piles or haemorrhoids are almost entirely the result of pushing too hard due to an incorrect seated position on the toilet. You are literally using your muscles to push your insides out. Over time you can likely look forward to incontinence as well.
- Cancer – there is lots of thinking that poor elimination leads to cancer of the bowel. The knock on this ranges from a problem absorbing nutrients to fatigue and all the way to the dreaded cancer.
The list does not stop there and good gut health requires thorough elimination. Given the recent science connecting gut health to autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disorders and even psychiatric disorders it certainly makes sense to look after your insides and proper pooping is a step in the right direction.
What to do about it
It’s fairly clear we should squat to plop but how do you go about that in the real world? A stack of books in the bathroom is not ideal but you will also need to poop-on-the-go so we need some strategies that work home and away.
- Squatty Potty – We simply have to start here with the premium solution. Developed due to a family members struggle with bowel related issues all the science and thinking was used to create the mighty squatty potty. Not everyone is going to want this in their bathroom and it is a premium price for what is essentially a small step but if you want the best then you can’t go far wrong.
- Ikea Childrens Stool – These simple stools from Ikea are what we use at home. They are around £3.00 each, they stack and you can use one or a couple if you prefer a wider leg stance (seems more natural from a squat perspective). They don’t look out of place in any bathroom either so you won’t get asked questions you may rather not answer in polite company.
- On the go – This is somewhat harder as you won’t have many options. I have found a solution though that seems to work well on the go. The general thinking here is that the knees need to be higher than the hips and you need to lean forwards. I am not a tall man by any means but by going on my tip toes and leaning forwards I can get my business done without any pushing (the gold standard). A few other tips are taking your shoes off and standing on them or sitting on the porcelain rather than the seat to win you an inch or so.
Once you get used to the improved mechanics you can to some extent feel your way around it. You will notice that you simply don’t need to push.
This is one of those small changes or optimisations if you will that can really make a big difference. Certainly, if you suffer from constipation or some such it can help there but it also has merit as a preventative strategy. Try it for a few weeks and you will never go back.
Let me know how you get on in the comments – no need to go into too much detail! 🙂