Gut health is a trending topic right now. While we still do not know everything there is to know about the gut, we do know that the health of our gut has a huge impact on our overall health. This means that it is extremely important to do everything we can to keep our gut healthy.
There are several things we can do to improve our gut health, such as eating healthier foods and reducing our stress levels. Another way to keep our digestive system healthy is to poop regularly. Although this may sound simple, lots of us find it hard to go for a poo.
Maintaining good toilet posture may be useful for people that find it difficult to pass stools, those who suffer from constipation, or those who strain while defecating. In fact, research has shown that the way we sit on the toilet not only affects how often we defecate but it can also have a huge impact on the health of our digestive system. Keep reading below to find out more:
The Epidemic of Digestion and Constipation
One epidemic that belongs to our generation is the problem of constipation and digestion. Studies suggest that the number of people who suffer from constipation is on the rise, along with the number of people going to hospital or suffering other health issues due to constipation. Although several things play a role in our bowel movements, such as our diet and the amount of exercise we do, the type of toilet we own can also play a role.
With globalization came toilets that allowed people to sit comfortably instead of squat. Pedestal-style toilets were first introduced in the 19th century. Initially, they were seen as amazing pieces of equipment. However, more recently, many experts have stated that these toilets could be harming our digestive systems. In fact, research suggests that people who use these types of toilets are more likely to suffer from hemorrhoids, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, appendicitis, or even a heart attack.
While this is not great news for people that own a pedestal-style toilet (almost everyone in the western hemisphere), there are lots of things we can do to reduce the risks of suffering from one of these conditions. Many experts believe that our defecating posture can have a huge impact on our gut health.
In medical literature, there are three main positions that humans can use to poop:
- Sitting with hips flexed – hip flexion is the amount your legs are tilted or elevated during a bowel movement.
To get an idea of the way your body evacuates your bowels, imagine a piece of flexible pipe as the exit tunnel from your bottom. The flexible pipe is your rectal canal. If the flexible pipe is bent or compressed, it will not be able to empty properly. However, if the pipe is straight, there is a direct route for your poop to leave your body.
For most individuals in the U.S. and the western hemisphere, sitting is the common defecation posture. This is because many of them own a pedestal-type toilet bowl. As we mentioned above, these toilets became popular in the 19th century, when indoor sanitation became more mainstream.
Many researchers believe that defecating in the sitting position can lead to health conditions such as chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They point out that a human’s natural impulse is to squat while doing a poo and state that the sitting position does not allow our rectal muscles to relax properly.
Sitting with Legs Flexed
Research has suggested that it may be beneficial to sit on a toilet with your legs flexed away from your body at a 60-degree angle. This puts your rectal muscles in a better position, therefore reducing the amount a person has to strain to do a poo.
However, while sitting with legs flexed is believed to be better than sitting casually on the toilet, there are currently no studies available to suggest that sitting in this position is better than squatting on the toilet.
Sitting with your knees up by your chest, otherwise known as squatting, has been proven to be the most effective and natural position to empty your bowels. In fact, a recent study showed that sitting in a squatting position resulted in less strain and more complete bowel movements.
As you can see from the evidence above, squatting is the best toilet posture. Squatting broadens the anorectal angle to allow a straighter and clearer passageway for stools to exit the anal canal. Studies also suggest that squatting can reduce the amount of time a person spends on the toilet. In fact, it takes an average of 51 seconds for a bowel motion during squatting, compared to 130 seconds when sitting.
How to Achieve the Best Toilet Posture
Here are some tips to help you achieve the best toilet posture:
- Lean forward with your hands resting on your thighs for support
- Ensure your knees are higher than your hips – you may need a footstool if you are not very tall or your toilet is high off the ground
- Keep your feet on a flat surface
- Breathe deeply – this helps prevent straining and it also increases the amount of pressure in your abdomen
- Relax your anal sphincter to let the stool out
It is important to remember that while squatting can be helpful for individuals who suffer from constipation, it is not a cure. Individuals also need to consider other factors such as exercise, medication, diet, and fluid intake. All these things can affect the consistency and frequency of bowel motions.
For thousands of years now, humans have been sitting in the squatting position to go to the toilet because it was the only natural way to do it. Without realizing it, it helped them to defecate more easily and prevented them from a range of health issues, which today are fairly common, like hemorrhoids and constipation. If not treated, these conditions could lead to complications or even result in colon cancer. However, in most cases, these conditions can be prevented by sitting on the toilet correctly.