Modern bathrooms are designed for sanitation, ease of cleaning, and a dignified, Western approach to...pooping. However, the fine ceramic "throne" we all know and use every day may actually be causing some of the most common health problems that plague Americans, and all because we don't squat.
Squatting is the natural posture for both childbirth and elimination, and with good reason; we're physically designed to squat. A squatting position straightens the rectum and unkinks the bowel, allowing for full elimination without any straining, and straining can cause pelvic floor strain, incontinence, IBS, and hemorrhoids. Squatting is the natural position that most other non-European countries use, and coincidentally, those countries have lower rates of pelvic prolapse - a condition that didn't manifest in Europe and America until the invention of the modern, sitting toilet.
"The pelvic floor is a hammock of muscles that supports the intestines, the bladder and the uterus. Western toilets force the user to strain when evacuating, repeatedly subjecting the pelvic floor to unnatural stress. The downward pressure stretches and weakens the pudendal nerve, responsible for bladder control.
To maintain continence, the brain needs to constantly monitor the pressure within the bladder and issue commands to the urethral sphincter muscle. Both functions are impaired when the pudendal nerve is weakened by the descent of the pelvic floor." (from naturesplatform.com website)
The list of throne-sitting health issues doesn't stop there. Sitting during defecation puts intense pressure on ileocecal valve, the connecting point between the small and large intestine, allowing for feces to backflow into the small intestine, and toxins to enter the bloodstream. There is evidence that it can also increase risk for (or aggravate) hiatal hernias, cardiac incidents (heart attacks, like Elvis had), diverticulosis, colon cancer, appendicitis, prostate problems, and even prostate cancer.
Several companies are now hopping on the squat bandwagon, and should you want to try out this primal pooping posture, you can buy a Sandun-Evaco Toilet Converter, the "In Lieu" toilet converter, a Squatty Potty, or a Lillipad. Lillipad also offers design plans for building your own pooping platform for 8 bucks, which is considerably cheaper than the prefab options (which run between $50-$300). If you're looking for hemorrhoid, prostate, or incontinence relief, squatting in the loo may be the right thing for you.
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