Good poop matters! Ask those who deal with constipation woes. Utah-based Judy Edwards dealt with hemorrhoids and constipation for years, but altering her pooping position using a foot stool, altered her life – literally! And now it’s changing pooping habits for several others too.
Judy is the inspiration behind, and one of the co-founders, of Squatty Potty, a company that designs stool inspired by the gold old Indian style of squatting on toilets. Visibility on entrepreneurial show Shark Tank gave the business an unprecedented fillip. Now young Indians who have become accustomed to western commodes, are readily using it – and in some way, going back to the roots!
“For years, our elders have spoken about the advantages of squatting for better bowel movements. That’s why I thought of trying this stool to get the closest to the experience I can on an everyday basis. The semi-squat position has been working well,” says Priyanka Rathi, a 32-year-old professional.
What does the stool do? Well, it elevates your feet while using the toilet, and that does the job of helping you do your ‘business’ well!
According to experts, squatting on an Indian toilet is an ideal position for pooping. The squatting position causes your stomach to squeeze, which in turn aids excretion by churning and transporting the waste through your colon.
“Squatting enables complete excretion of the stool, hence preventing constipation, appendicitis and other issues that can eventually cause colon cancer,” Dr Pankaj Aggarwal, M.D. (Hom.); Ph.D. Senior Homeopath, Agrawal Homoeo Clinic.
For those with only access to western toilets, an inexpensive stool can be a helpful toilet accessory.
“Place the plastic stool under your feet to attain the ideal angle of 35 degrees to position your organs and muscles in a way that relaxes your rectum,” explains Dr Aggarwal.
The western commode otherwise promotes a 90 degree position, with bent hips, and that can be detrimental as it impedes the movement of faeces through the intestines.
“This disruption causes you to put extra pressure on your bowel, which goes against the law of physics. Bending your upper body forward is not a helpful solution either, as this further blocks the passage of intestines,” he explains.
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Remember Amitabh Bachchan’s constant poop worry in the film Piku? Yes, it may have elicited laughter, but then it also did more than its share in pushing constipation talk out in the open.
Your bowel movements do play a significant role in maintaining and supporting your health. The frequency of bowel movements differs from person to person. Some may poop thrice a day, and some just thrice a week.
Factors such as diet, age and physical activity level influence your frequency and quantity of bowel movement.
Dr Aggarwal believes that the following reasons are responsible too:
Irregular sleep-waking rhythm: Our body has its biological clock which needs to be in rhythm as per your peculiar clock inside. But wrong habits like sedentary lifestyle and long working hours, this clock gets disturbed.
“Your gut also varies with the rhythm. No amount of water or fibre can correct your bowel movements until you set yourself with your clock. So, know your biological clock and follow it,” he says.
Emotional factors: With the exponential advancement of civilization, the curse is suppression of your emotions which influence your gut.
Medicines, nutraceuticals, vitamins: Human gut is the universe of a community of bacteria doing multi-tasking for our life. As per the knowledge of microgenome, about one hundred trillion bacteria live in our gut and maintain our life. One amongst many activities, the rhythm of bowel movement is also maintained by them. But, indiscriminate use of medicines, nutraceuticals and vitamins can disrupt the peculiar spectrum of the microgenome in the gut and cause such irregularity.
Nevertheless, small lifestyle changes can help you solve your woes. A word of caution from the doctor though – “If you’re suffering from long-term digestive problems, it is advisable to seek professional consultation.”