Our ancestors did it. People in Asia, Africa, and some parts of Europe still do it, and practising Muslims still prefer it. So how did we end up deviating from the best way to relieve ourselves?
Blame it on toilets as we know them.
People thought they were on to something good when they made the “throne”, but research is now proving that indeed we should squat, not sit.
In a 2003 study, 28 healthy people volunteered to time themselves in three alternate positions: sitting on a standard toilet, sitting on a low toilet, and squatting. They not only recorded how long it took them, but also how much effort it took. Squatting, the study concluded, takes less time and effort.
“There is definitely some physiologic sense to squatting,” says gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, MD, co-author of a number of books on colon health, “Simply put, it straightens out the colon.”
When we’re standing, the colon (where waste is stored) gets pushed up against the puborectalis muscle, which keeps fecal continence until it’s time to hit the bathroom. Sitting down only partially relaxes that muscle. Squatting fully relaxes it, essentially straightening out the colon. That, in turn, eases the elimination process.
Experts have suggested that conditions like colitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids stem from all the sitting and straining people do on the toilet. Studies have shown, for example, that the more time you spend in the bathroom, the more likely you are to develop hemorrhoids, or swollen blood vessels in and around the anus. Some doctors even recommend patients try squatting to deal with their colon issues.
So once again, ancient wisdom trumps what we though was modern advancement.
Time to get rid of that high toilet?