What’s the Big Deal About Pooping Posture?
When you consider the design of modern toilets, it’s just hard to imagine that there’s a more effective way to eliminate waste. I mean, you go to the bathroom, drop your pants and take a seat. That’s how we’ve done it since we were potty trained, and how we’ll continue to do it as long as toilet seats are a foot and a half off the ground.
However, doctors have been trying to tell us for decades that we’ve been doing it all wrong, specifically with regard to the “sitting” part of the equation. As it turns out, the key to a complete, abdomen-emptying poop is squatting, rather than sitting, and it all has to do with the human anatomy. We’ll give you the low-down on why it’s important to get low when you go #2, and how to do it right.
Pooping: A Brief History
For centuries, pooping posture for humans consisted of squatting in a field, much like any other mammal. In fact, squatting is still the primary method in many Eastern cultures, calling to mind the traditional squat toilets found in China. If you don’t know what a squat toilet is, think of a shallow, porcelain basin mounted in the floor, analogous to the design of an in-ground pool. From there, you plant both of your feet on either side of the basin and GET LOW. The end result is a more complete defecation, without the struggle associated with sitting.
In a nutshell, the positioning of the rectum, or the degree of the Anal Rectal angle when we go to the bathroom is the key determinant of our bathroom experience. In order to defecate, our body needs to assume a position that makes defecation possible. Can you imagine trying to go #2 in an upright, standing position? Defecation while standing up is just not anatomically possible, as the Anal Rectal angle is too narrow to allow feces to pass through. On the other hand, when we get into a squatting position, the Anal Rectal angle opens up completely, making defecation naturally a breeze.
When you sit, the Anal Rectal angle opens up just enough to allow defecation, but the rectum is still somewhat constricted. To compensate for the constricted angle, we often find ourselves literally struggling to push out waste.
Health Risks of Sitting
In addition to making defecation a longer, more difficult process, struggling to eliminate feces can cause painful, swollen veins in the colon, better known as hemorrhoids. And although the jury is still out on the relationship between colon cancer and sitting on the toilet, consider the following:
1) The countries with the highest rates of colon cancer are the U.S. and Canada, where sitting is the primary pooping position.
2) Among the countries with the lowest rates of colon cancer is China, where squatting is the cultural position of choice.
Lastly, sitting doesn’t allow complete elimination, leaving feces and toxins behind in the body. Since feces are formed by the separation of water from solid waste in the large intestines, those feces become drier the longer they stay in the body. Ultimately, dry feces can cause constipation, and the more often you’re constipated, the greater chance you have of contracting a colon disease.
How to Squat on a Seated Toilet
Let’s face it—unless you’re super flexible, you just can’t stand up on your toilet seat and squat into a proper squatting position without hurting yourself. On the other hand, you could squat over a bucket if you’re really gung ho about squatting, but that’s just downright gross. The issue then becomes a matter of safely positioning yourself into a squat while on a seated toilet, or moving to the other side of globe.
If you decide to stay in the western world, give the Squatty Potty a whirl. Like a foot rest for the toilet, the Squatty Potty raises your knees above your hips, naturally opening the anorectal angle to a perfect pooping position. The Squatty Potty marries the comfort and convenience of the western commode with the health benefits of the eastern squat. Its U-shape design allows you to slide it beneath the toilet seat, great for convenient storage and easy access.
Squatting may seem weird and funny but the health benefits can’t be ignored. It’s about time that along with diet and nutrition, we talk about toilet posture as being a solution to elimination woes.
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(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
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