Why You Should Squat for Best Digestive Health

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Why You Should Squat for Best Digestive Health
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Many Western people turn their noses up at the sight of a squat toilet. But their arrogance might be as bad as their ignorance. It appears that many digestive problems, including colon cancer and hemorrhoids, can be attributed to the position we sit in while we poop.

Evidence in favor of the old-fashioned squat toilet is mounting, and devices to help the unaccustomed with squatting are being invented at a fast rate. If you have your digestive health at heart, you might want to reconsider the ‘civilized’ sitting-down toilet. Instead, follow the example of some other cultures, more in touch with the natural lifestyle – they choose to squat and suffer from far less (if any at all) bowel diseases.

Squatting versus sitting

In traditional squatting position, your knees are pulled closer to the chest – this aligns the body in a specific way that aids defecation. Your rectum relaxes and straightens. This enables complete emptying of the bowels without too much straining.

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If you adopt the conventional sitting position, your knees are at a 90 degree angle. In this position, the colon can’t straighten and empty completely. The pathway remains obstructed by the puborectalis muscle. This muscle plays an important role in maintaining continence, but needs to relax if we are to defecate successfully.

Fecal matter that remains in your bowels can be a start of a bigger problem- it causes accumulation of toxins and makes the passageway increasingly narrower. Your body was not designed for prolonged exposure to substances that should have been evacuated. Stagnant poop full of toxins can spark off malignant changes in the walls of your colon.

It has been suggested that 80% of all colorectal cancers develop in the areas of the intestines that cannot be fully emptied in the sitting position (read more about warning signs of colorectal (bowel) cancer here).

Advantages of squatting

Jonathan Isbit, the inventor of Nature’s platform device, wrote an elaborate article on the topic of health benefits of squatting. He presents the seven most important advantages of adopting a squatting position while you poo. These include:

Faster, easier and more complete elimination (remember that, if everything is in order, you shouldn’t spend more than a couple of minutes using the toilet).

Protection of the nerves that control the bladder, prostate and uterus, so they don’t get stretched and damaged.

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Support to the ileocecal valve, which seals the small intestine and prevents contamination during defecation. If you sit, the valve cannot do its job properly, which can result in some fecal matter leaking back into the small intestine.

Relaxation of the puborectalis muscle, so the rectum can empty.

If you squat, you use your thighs and strain much less. Straining can cause numerous bowel disorders. By using your thigh muscles so actively, you are also doing a very good workout!

Pregnant women can benefit from squatting in preparation for a more natural labor. Also, this position puts less pressure on the uterus.

Hemorrhoid prevention, as shown by recent studies.

Conditions connected to a sitting position

Health problems that possibly originate from the improper toileting position include some of the following concerns:

  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
  • Colon cancer
  • Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Fecal incontinence (anal leakage)
  • Diverticulitis (formation of pouches in the wall of the colon and consequent inflammation of one of these pouches)
  • Prostate disorders
  • Hiatal hernia (a part of the stomach gets pushed through a tear or weakness in the diaphragm)
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease – stomach acid flows back into the esophagus)
  • Sexual dysfunction

It is interesting to note that non-westernized societies, where squatting is still practiced, have a much lower prevalence of all these problems.

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Squatting and hemorrhoids

Research is showing that straining is one of the factors that contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. An Israeli study conducted by Dr. Berko Sikirov showed that hemorrhoids were successfully treated by simply adopting a different toileting position. When patients switched from sitting to squatting, the problems were eliminated as they did not have to strain so much.

Natural cure for constipation

Constipation and hemorrhoids are often connected, and people who have hemorrhoids frequently suffer from chronic constipation.

Squatting can help with constipation. Pooping is made easier because the necessary muscles relax, while the ileocecal valve remains sealed. This creates a pressure in the colon that works like a natural laxative. When you squat, you also allow the gravity to do most of the work for you.

For both of the above conditions, and bowel emptying, it’s also very important to consume enough dietary fiber, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly.

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Ways to squat on a modern toilet

Unfortunately, most of the squat toilets were made obsolete and it’s increasingly difficult to come across one. In 2012, Thailand announced it will replace its remaining squat toilets in public facilities for the sit-down variety.

There are ways to adopt a squatting position, nonetheless.

  1. Sit on your toilet as usually, raise your feet up and place them on the toilet seat right in front of you. Bring your knees closer to you and hug them to give the position more support. You might feel slightly self-conscious or silly at the beginning, but this is a good position to be in, so don’t let your prejudice stop you from trying.
  2. Use a step stool and place it next to the toilet. When you poop, put your feet on the stool, which will bring your knees closer to your body and relax the puborectalis muscle. This is not a full squat, but it’s definitely better than the normal sitting position.

Different devices are also being designed to support the more natural position for number twos. ‘Squatty Potty’ is one of them, developed by Robert Edwards who was trying to help his mother fight her hemorrhoids. You can check the internet for other, more or less amusing, options.

Squatting might take a bit of practicing, but it’s definitely worth the initial effort, so get back to the roots of toileting!

Here is a short video on why you should squat on the toilet:

For more tips on how to improve your digestive systems, read my other posts:

Sources:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/447496?dopt=Abstract
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206564/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2927355

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