By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
December 4, 2019
Now, I’m not too shy about bathroom talk. So, you’ve been fairly warned.
I bring this up because many people don’t realize that toilets may be causing your bathroom problems. By their very design, they prevent us from having a full natural bowel movement.
You see, toilets elevate us off the ground into an unnatural sitting position. This can cause issues like constipation and diverticulosis.
In fact, chronic constipation affects between 2-27% of the entire population on a regular basis. And hundreds of millions of dollars spent on laxatives each year.
So, there’s something to be learned from people who still squat to “go.” I got to see the benefits first hand on a trip to Africa…
Years ago, I was in the jungles of the West Central Congo. It was in the country of Gabon and I was looking for new natural products from the jungle to help with our stem cell research. Our team had hired a tribe of local pygmies to guide us through the jungle.
At one point, we were walking along a remote trail. One of the pygmies peeled off from the group to go squat behind a tree. I settled back to wait – expecting him to take a few minutes to do his deed.
But, just ten seconds later, he rejoined the group!
How did he do that so quickly? I was amazed. He didn’t even pause to wipe himself. It wasn’t needed.
After a few moments of thought, I realized there were two things that probably helped him answer nature’s call so easily.
First off, his people survive on a very healthy diet of fibrous vegetables. This is food high in soluble fiber like figs, potatoes, and berries.
Secondly, his natural squatting position allowed him to easily and fully empty the contents of his bowel without any extra strain or stress. It’s the most natural and efficient way to fully clear out the sigmoid colon.
In fact, if you travel away from the Western world, you’ll find “toilets” that are really just a hole in the floor. You need to squat down low to use it. That was also a situation I found myself in waiting at a train station in Florence…a hole in the concrete floor.
There was actually a study of 30 Iranian patients who were asked to use two different toilets while researchers observed. (Awkward, I know!)
The patients used a ground-level toilet (common in Iran) and then used a Western style toilet with a bowl. Researchers found the ground-level toilet resulted in more comfortable and complete bowel movements than the raised toilets.
So, squatting was easier and healthier for the patients!
How does this work? Why is squatting so beneficial when it comes to pooping?
The Secret Behind Squatting…
Well, if you’ve ever laughed at the Squatty Potty commercial, you’ve seen cartoons illustrate what’s going on inside your body.
There’s something called the pubococcygeal ligament that loops around that bottom portion of your sigmoid colon as it goes into the rectum.
When you’re sitting upright on a toilet seat, this ligament creates a kink in your sigmoid colon. It increases the pressure on the outer epithelial walls. When you’re sitting like that, it doesn’t let everything out. You won’t have a complete evacuation of your sigmoid colon.
That’s why – for most of human history – people squatted! Then we got the modern toilet bowl and things started to change.
An Israeli study looked at 28 healthy volunteers between the ages of 17 and 66 years old. It found that a squatting position allows for faster, easier, and more pleasant bowel movements compared to sitting on a toilet seat.
Then, a Japanese study found that a greater hip angle due to squatting will straighten the rectoanal canal and require less strain for subjects to “go.”
Squatting puts you in a more natural position. It relaxes the ligament to allow you to completely empty your stores.
And, regular bowel movements are healthier for your body.
For instance, if you have a bowel movement every morning before you leave the house… and it’s a good one… you’re probably in good shape.
It would be even better if you were to have another one after lunch or dinner to move the material out; what we call a gastrocolic reflex…food goes in and waste comes out.
But for people who do not have such regular BMs, you need to pay attention.
The longer your toxic poop sits next to the delicate epithelial membrane of your sigmoid colon and rectum, the greater your chances of having issues.
You may experience more inflammation and increased pressure within the walls of your colon. And this could contribute to early diverticulosis – where you have a weak colonic wall. You may also suffer from constipation.
I have a dear friend who called me one day to complain of increasing pain in his lower abdomen below his belly button. He was having trouble pooping and his belly was becoming tender to the touch. Turns out, he had a case of diverticulosis quickly becoming diverticulitis and needed immediate treatment.
Now I’m not asking you to throw your toilet to the curb and dig a hole in the floor of your bathroom. Instead, I recommend finding a way to lift your legs higher off the floor to achieve a more natural squat.
This will position your body in the perfect position to more easily empty your colon.
Even a simple footstool will work!
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology studied the effects of raising your feet higher off the ground with a stool while using the toilet. They observed “increased bowel emptiness and reduced straining.”
Personally, I like the Squatty Potty because it is also designed to wrap around your toilet for easier storage when not in use.
Along with this, I also recommend you up your intake of soluble fiber and keep yourself well-hydrated. Like the pygmies of the Congo, eat as many fibrous vegetables as you can for easier bowel movements.
But, enough bathroom talk for now…
Modi, et al. “Implementation of a Defecation Posture Modification Device: Impact on Bowel Movement Patterns in Healthy Subjects.” J Clin Gastroenterol 2019; 53: 216-219. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30346317
Rad, Saeed. (2002). Impact of ethnic habits on defecographic measurements. Arch Iran Med. 5(2): 115-117. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8cb2/5ffa66375805e65b02c5d3e5aab6914a3643.pdf?_ga=2.146776892.902670996.1573145982-193014644.1573145982
Sakakibara, R. et al. “Influence of Body Position on Defecation in Humans.” Low Urin Tract Symptoms. 2010 Apr;2(1):16-21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26676214
Sanchez, Maria Ines Pinto, and Premysl Bercik. “Epidemiology and burden of chronic constipation.” Canadian journal of gastroenterology = Journal canadien de gastroenterologie vol. 25 Suppl B,Suppl B (2011): 11B-15B. doi:10.1155/2011/974573 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206560/