If you’re reading this, then obviously you can read in English (at least partially); but a big part of English speaking societies are pooping wrong, and this could cause massive health problems. In other words, we, westerners, should change how we poop.

The throne. Image via Houzz.

As it turns out, the main culprit is the toilet. The throne. The big white – call it as you will, toilets as we know them today have not been around for long, but now, they are virtually ubiquitous in Europe, America and Australia (even in some parts of Asia). In case you’re wondering, the problem is that with modern toilets, you’re sitting, when in fact you should be squatting.

In a 2003 study, 28 healthy people volunteered to time themselves doing their business in three alternate positions: sitting on a standard toilet, sitting on a low toilet, and squatting. The results were clear: squatting takes less time and effort – and that makes a lot of sense.

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“There is definitely some physiologic sense to squatting,” says gastroenterologist Anish Sheth, MD, co-author of the books What’s Your Poo Telling You? and What’s My Pee Telling Me? “Simply put, it straightens out the colon.”

When you’re standing, the colon (which is where the to-be-eliminated waste is stored) gets pushed up against the puborecatlis muscle. This makes it so that your feces stays inside of you until you decide to let it out. When you do that, you relax the muscle, but here’s the thing: sitting only partially relaxes it, while squatting fully relaxes it. This makes for an easier waste elimination process, and because the colon is more straight, it also reduces the chances of small quantities unwanted waste remaining on the walls of the colon.

Turkish toilet made for squatting.

Indeed, many experts have argued that digestive illnesses like colitis, constipation, and hemorrhoids stem from all the sitting and straining people do on the toilet. A public health study by Ron Shaoul regarding the time spent on the toilet, especially reading, is associated with hemorrhoids or swollen blood vessels in and around the anus.

So squatting is almost certainly healthier for you than pooping, and while some restrooms in Asia, Russia or even France may offer squatting toilets, in America and most of Europe that’s out of the question. We’re pooping wrong, and we should fix it, but without adapted toilets, that’s not possible. The one thing Sheth references is a product called Squatty Potty, which may help with that.