Over time, Western toilets have become synonymous with progress, modernity, and hygiene, but it’s doubtful whether the first inventors of the modern-day flushing toilet had any knowledge of human physiology. Our modern-day toilets have a flaw that can exacerbate bowel issues, such as constipation. As I explain in this video, we are not meant to empty our bowels in a sitting position, but rather a squatting position.
A U-shaped muscle called the puborectalis wraps around your rectum. This muscle keeps the lower part of your bowel bent to hold the stool inside until you’re ready to go. It works much like a kink in a garden hose that prevents water from getting out. The slight bend in your colon stops you from letting go and having an accident. When it’s time to have a bowel movement, your rectum contracts. The puborectalis muscle relaxes, and you push to release the stool from your body.
The problem with sitting is that it keeps the kink in your lower bowel. That forces you to work harder to push out the stool. Squatting relaxes your puborectalis muscle more and straightens out your rectum, giving the stool a straight route out. As a result, you can go more easily with less straining.
So, as I share in the video, my tip to prevent unnecessary straining is to raise your feet 6 inches off the floor – you can rest them on a small stool, a step or even a bin – to allow the muscle to relax and make evacuation more comfortable.
When people use posture-changing devices to squat, studies show they go more quickly. They also strain less and empty their bowels more completely than when they sit on the toilet.
Being in a squatting position/raising your feet will help ease constipation and help prevent haemorrhoids and rectal prolapses, which are often a result of straining. For more information on constipation, including supplement recommendations, you can request a download of my free Constipation Fact Sheet here.
If you have any questions about a digestive and gut health issue, do get in touch.