I hinted at this a little while ago, and now it’s time… It’s time to talk about poop.
I’m going to share with you a simple change that I have made in my… ahem… morning routine, that has had big benefits for me in only about a month of implementing this change, and that I believe holds big benefits for everyone. But if you simply don’t want to hear about poop, then feel free to tune out for this one. See you next time.
If you don’t mind the toilet talk and you want to feel better and have better health moving forward, then keep on reading. Don’t worry; I’ll try to keep it clean. This is more about how you poo, rather than the end product.
Early in December, I read this article on The Kitchen Rag about how we’re pooping wrong, and BIG lightbulbs started going off in my head. Ding ding ding! Please click on that link and read about Diana’s family background & experience with this method too. But, to summarise…. We’re not talking anything fancy. We’re not talking high tech equipment, or laxatives, or enemas, or any of that weird and gross stuff.
We’re talking, as usual, about rewinding time. Taking things back to a time in our human-ancestral-past where our ancestors were way smarter than us just had it all figured out. We’re talking about squatting. Yep. That socially unacceptable, dirty, lower class (pun totally intended), and just-so-terribly-primal method of pooping.
I’m not afraid to admit – since reading Diana’s article in December, I squat when I poop. And I feel awesome for it.
Now, you can buy fancy equipment to do it. It’s called the Squatty Potty, and you can even buy wooden vintagey-looking ones on Etsy. Or, you can do what I do. Repurpose. I use vinegar to wash my hair, so I have a big 5L jug of it in the bathroom. That now doubles as my footrest when the need arises. I’ve even taken a photo of my throne for you. Go find something in your house that can double as a squat stool, and get down to business!
Now, let’s talk about the actual mechanics of squatting, and why it is so important…
So, that magical angle… That’s what we’re really here to talk about. The angle between your rectum and anal canal is virtually a right angle when sitting (as in, sitting on the loo). Well, damn. Surely that’s an evolutionary flaw, right? Surely we should be built so that it’s not so darn hard to get a poo out, right?
Oh, right. We are built that way. If we’re doing what our ancestors did. Simply pulling your knees up can make a big difference. Squatting means that angle between your rectum and anal canal straightens right up.
Do I really need to tell you now that it’s going to be easier to poop when you’re squatting? Surely you can imagine the difference. If you’re in doubt, just imagine shooting wads of paper out of a straw (maybe something else you learnt in 7th grade science?!). Would it be easier to shoot them out of a straw at a right angle? Or out of a straight straw?
But just in case you’re still not convinced, don’t worry. Enter, research: Sikirov conducted a study in 2003 on straining in three positions (sitting, lowered toilet seat, and squatting) and found that squatting caused a significant reduction in time taken to reach satisfactory sensation of emptying and significant reduction in a subjective measure of the intensity (i.e. stress) of defecation. Meaning: less time on the toilet and less straining when squatting instead of sitting. A lowered toilet seat was consistently better than ordinary sitting, but squatting produced the largest changes.
The thing is, sitting ‘normally’ (i.e. on a modern toilet seat) puts a big strain on your body. It causes you to use force to defecate, since you have to squeeze past a right angle. That’s not good in anyone’s books. Did you know that many cultures where they still squat to poop don’t even have haemorrhoids or constipation?! Or diverticulosis coli?! Diverticulosis coli is a pocketing of the walls of the colon due to muscle weakness. It typically occurs in places where pressure is the greatest, and patients can have severe complications. Originally, the differences in levels of these diseases were thought to be due to low fibre diets in the western world, but research since the initial study has ruled out fibre as a factor – placing the blame squarely on sitting (Sikirov, 2003).
And it goes beyond these aforementioned diseases… The extra straining and time spent on the toilet may even link to cardiovascular events, with Sikirov (2003) tentatively concluding that the reduced time and intensity of defecation in a squatting position may actually prevent some cardiovascular events.
In my personal experience? I’m not afraid to get personal here…
The first time I decided to try squatting, I was blown away by the instant changes. Doing the deed was quicker and much easier. And the change that I didn’t really expect – I felt empty. I felt as though, for the first time in my life, I had actually completely emptied my bowels. I kid you not, I’ve never felt so completely vacant in all my years of pooping. This is probably the only circumstance in which feeling so empty is actually a good thing, and let me tell you, it was glorious. Enough to keep me squatting still a month later. And I plan to keep squatting til I’m an old bird as long as I can get my knees up high enough. And another unexpected change – my gut feels a little better. Less gas, less cramping. Woo!
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