How Your Toilet Sit Is Fostering Constipation
Last year when I took a group of American students to India the biggest worry for most people was the use of Indian toilets. People were worried about hygiene and also about discomfort of squatting over a hole in the floor.
Squatting toilets are still predominant in the 3rd world countries, especially Asia. Growing up in Russia I was used to ‘a hole in the floor’ types of toilets. They were everywhere: schools, public bathrooms, trains (not the most comfortable experience!), and even some hotels. Even when public bathroom turned fancy and installed Western sit-down types of toilets, Russians would still manage to climb on top of the actual sit and squat. The top of the sit was always covered in foot marks. Old habits die hard.
The reason that I am telling you all this is that there might be a reason to switch back to the old squatting habits.
Western toilet seat to blame for constipation?
It might be funny to talk about such personal stuff online but if there is something that gets in a way of an optimal functioning of our body, I have to tell you about this. I just can’t help myself to shut up about digestion. It is crucial to our well-being, happiness, and looking good.
Americans spend over $725 million on laxatives each year. This is not accounting for endless fiber supplements, herbal colon cleanses and other digestive aids. Getting Americans to poop is a booming billion-dollar industry! Looking at this numbers makes me think that I am surrounded with constipated people. And it always makes me sad.
Constipation, while not life-threatening in most case, can be quite debilitating. Being constipated can lead to an array of problems: bad breath, weight gain, allergies, bloating, poor nutrient assimilation, fatigue, migraine, breakouts, heart burn, lower back pain and sadly, the list goes on. Unfortunately, many people even grew to believe that going to the bathroom 2-3 times a week is normal. It is a bad news since all the waste that is not eliminated is rotting inside and changes the blood chemistry in your body allowing the disease to set in.
Digestion builds blood and feeds all our organs. To create good blood and healthy new cells, we need good digestion.
If fecal matter stays inside too long food starts to rot and creates toxins and waste products. Waste products can irritate the intestines. Overtime constipation can result in gray, lusterless skin, emotional disturbances, tight muscles, low immunity and joint pain (arthritis and constipation are related).
Going Against the Nature
The first time I heard that squatting was actually better, easier, and healthier was 2 years ago at the Hippocrates institute. Every bathroom there had a plastic step neat the toilet to rest the feet. I believe that you have to try things before judging. After trying it for one day, I was pretty excited about the difference it made! Here is why it works:
When the modern toilet was designed during the industrial revolution in the mid 1800’s it was designed to sit on like a throne rather than the way our ancestors did it.
This design placed the body in an unnatural position and according to some doctors might be responsible for constipation, hemorrhoids, and some pelvic floor issues. Nature designed our elimination system in a way that for a comfortable defecation to occur anorectal angle has to be close to 180 degrees.
In a sitting position, when the angle is closer to 90 degrees, elimination is difficult. Attempting to poo in the improper position is like trying to squeeze water through a kinked garden hose. It doesn’t work well. Dr. John Chiene discovered toilet users suffered from incomplete elimination compared with squatting position users. He actually weighed and compared his own fecal mass passed on the toilet with that passed in a squatting position; he found that he always eliminated less weight when he used the toilet alone!
The sitting position can cause an overload of the cardiovascular system while requiring more straining and longer time. According to research, a sitting posture may increase diverticulosis of the colon. The magnitude of straining during defecation is at least three times greater than with the squatting posture. The squatting posture straightens out the bend and elimination becomes much easier and complete.
While toilet seats are a recent development, only coming into widespread use in the nineteenth century, I doubt you would want to pull out your comfortable Western toilet and to squat over a hole in the floor for your number 2.
A few companies made ‘going back’ to the squatting basics a bit easier for us, spoiled Westerners. Squatty Potty , Health Step, and The Welles Step are among a few of those products. Here is how Squatty Potty is described:
“The Squatty Potty helps you to eliminate faster and more complete by putting your body into a natural squatting position over your own toilet. Using the Squatty Potty during elimination will un-kink your rectum taking your body from a continent mode to an elimination mode. This will speed up the elimination process therefore reducing the risk of toxic build up of fecal matter left in your colon. Using the squatty potty for elimination will reduce straining and decreases the pressure in the anal and rectal veins. The reduction of straining will help to heal and prevent hemorrhoids. It will also reduce the risk of bowel herniation and other damage to the lower digestive tract. The Squatty Potty is attractive and will discretely tuck under your toilet bowl when not in use. Its versatile design allows for both a forward and backward slant to ergonomically align the body for a comfortable and complete elimination.”
The footstool supports your feet up off the floor when you are seated on the toilet. This positions your body so that you are squatting on the toilet; supporting the abdominal wall and the bowel as we bear down encourages a more complete bowel evacuation. Those who use the footstools have fewer hernias, anal fissures, varicose veins, and use fewer laxatives. It can be used by men and women of all ages; pregnant women may find it especially comforting and relieving, according to the Health Step reviews.
Alternatively, you can use a stack of books to raise your knees up to your chest and create the same effect.
People are loving these stools and openly share their experiences: “My son has encopresis–chronic constipation. For the past two years, he’s been on one, sometimes, two capfulls of Miralax every day. While that helped his chronic constipation, the thought of him being on it for life was rather daunting. We decided to try the squatty potty to see if it would help. The results, in only a few days, have been remarkable. Even with the MIralax, it used to take him 20 minutes to have a BM. Now, he’s in and out in 5 minutes and tells us that his BMs have never been so big. After a day, we even stopped the Miralax and he’s had a BM every day”. You can read more here.
I want to hear from you: What do you think? If you ever tried squatting toilets or something similar to Squatty Potty, what was your experience?