Inspiration from Meghan

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The Chronicles Of A Poop-erstar


If you're in the nutrition world, or interested in it (which is why you probably read this blog!) you most definitely will have realized that we nutritionists concern ourselves an awful lot with poop. Pooping - how many times per day, the consistency, colour, volume, diameter. All these things matter to us and are discussed thoroughly with clients. It's nothing to be embarrassed about, we're over this bowel taboo by now...right? Everybody poops.

I take the "we're over it" thing to the next level and bring poop up a lot. I love talking about it so much so that Meghan has named me her official "poop-erstar".

Okay. Hear me out. Going #2 is super important. The primary key to health lies in our digestion. If we don't digest probably, dis-ease will ultimately ensue. A fundamental component of this is proper elimination and one of our channels of elimination is our bowels. Food goes in, waste comes out. It is something many people take for granted, but those of us who have encountered IBD, IBS, and other digestive woes never under appreciate the glory of a good poop. Stay with me here as we explore this notion of a good bowel movement a little further...

Although we all use the toilet, this contraption isn't actually doing us any favours in the pooping department. Sitting on the toilet, like how we sit on a normal chair, sets us up for bowel troubles including constipation, hernias, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and appendicitis. Yuck! This is because the way we position ourselves on the toilet is pretty unnatural.

The toilet isn't something that was used waaaaaay back when. It first became popular around 1850 in England and was originally designed by a watchmaker. This was approximately the same time that plumbing made its appearance. This meant cleaner disposal of all the poop that was previously being dumped out on the street or stored in chamber pots. This was really a matter of convenience more than anything else.

If we look to ancient societies or areas of the world where the toilet is not used, we find that bowel problems are essentially non-existent.

Why is this?

A major reason is that they utilize the squatting position to poop. Yup, they pop-a-squat camping styles. In fact, in places such as France, Italy, South America, and China, often the toilet is just a hole in the floor and you have no choice but to squat!

Why is the squatting position so amazing for our bowel health?

  • When performing the squat, the bowel is supported and held in alignment through the thighs' contact with the abdominal wall.
  • By squatting, we ensure that pressure is applied to the "cecum" and the "sigmoid". These are areas of the bowel which tend to accumulate fecal matter when the typical toilet position is taken. When these areas are not stimulated, elimination is incomplete and this allows toxins to proliferate and flood our bloodstream. The result is a larger toxic load which can then lead to a whole host of icky stuff from general fatigue and skin breakouts to heart disease and cancer.
  • Sitting on the toilet encourages bowel fatigue and the pull of gravity. While fatigue causes loss of muscle tone in the bowel wall, gravity encourages prolapse of the transerve colon. Not fun.
  • By squatting, we can avoid lower back and hip issues which are often symptomatic of "ileocecal-valve" dysfunction (this little part of our anatomy is support by squatting and prevents a reflux of  fecal matter into the small intestine).

Now I'm not telling you to get rid of your toilet and drill a hole in your bathroom floor. There are ways to squat while still using the toilet.

To make this even easier, you can also place a foot stool in front of your toilet to mimic the squatting position. One of my instructors at nutrition school recommended stacking our textbooks in front of the toilet to help us achieve the squat. To me, this just seemed like a really expensive foot stool.

Whichever route you take, remember - you still have to wash your hands when you're done! Happy pooping!

Question Of The Day: What modern day device do you feel does more harm than good?

18 Responses to “The Chronicles Of A Poop-erstar”

  1. Loved this, you pooperstar! ;) But really, good advice! Very interesting that bowel probs didn't start occuring until we stopped poppin' a squat. And I have to say microwaves... [next to toilets, that is]. Never did us any good! xo
  2. Allison said…
    I love my foot stool! I started using one about 9 years ago and just can’t imagine living without it. I’ve never been able to figure out how to squat on a toilet without losing balance and falling over. Do you use a foot stool, or squat on the toilet?
    • Jen Rotstein said…
      Hey Allison, I do the toilet method because I don't have a foot stool and like to keep my books out of the bathroom :)
  3. Aw, man - you'd LOVE the toilets in public restrooms here (Thailand). Let me know if you want a photo... Some years ago I saw Alan on Two and a Half Men using a pooping stool. I thought it was a marvellous idea, so I implemented one. It's pretty awesome, indeed!
  4. Ami said…
    lol love this, what an interesting read. I agree with Kristin on the microwave! We kicked ours to the curb about 3 years ago and never looked back.
  5. peace said…
    As I like to say, the proof is in the poop! When I was in Asia visiting family as a youth, I was so scared of the hole in the ground (it was in concrete with a nice ceramic 'seat' and grooves for non-slip action for the feet, cucarachas flying (and scurrying if they fancy) about. And to boot, the showers and commode are fully open, with only a beautifully carved wall with decorative holes since there's no AC. At another family's house (in another country in Asia), I was so happy to see a commode and it was literally a throne. Elevated on steps, made you feel like a Queen! One of the main reasons I didn't go back was because of the toilet issue, I couldn't handle it (and legs not strong enough to!) mind you I was in elementary school. Looking back, I can really appreciate it and know we had it right (in the motherland) all along!
  6. Liz said…
    Hey Jen, Thanks for this post. More and more I've been feeling like the fatigue and minor digestive issues that I've dealt with most of my life is related to elimination, so I'm happy to see some posts focusing on these issues. One question though ... I always find it more difficult to go #2 when I'm camping/squatting. In my normal life I'm a very regular and speedy pooper. But when I get in the squat position, nothing seems to work right. Any idea why this would be (mental or physical?) Is there a way to transition into the squatting method to prep my body for the change? Thanks, pooperstar!
    • Jen Rotstein said…
      Honestly, I used to have the same problem sometimes - I think a lot of it is psychological. Like when you think about how you want to poop it goes know what I mean? You may want to try the foot stool method to ease yourself into squatting.
  7. Samantha Angela said…
    So what your saying is that when I have to squat on the side of the trail during a super long run I'm doing my bowels a favour? Excellent. In the case that someone sees me in the bushes I will direct them to this article.
    • Jen Rotstein said…
      Haha I hope you don't have a running buddy in cases like that....not everyone appreciates the need to poop like we do!
  8. Erin Smith said…
    This article made me laugh. As the lead organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup group, our get-togethers inevitably lead to us talking about poop. It isn't a taboo topic for those of us that have suffered with "glutening" over the years although the people around us are probably grossed out. Thanks for posting this. As Kristen and Liz both said above, you are a pooperstar!
  9. [...] How to poop improper technique [...]
  10. Jo said…
    No question, squatting is easier and more sensible. However, for those of us with bum knees, it's near-impossible to do!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      get a little stool to put in front of the toilette. Put your feet up on it. Easy!
      • really? said…
        Hmm, I cannot envision the stool method. Not to be gross, but is there anyway to show a diagram or picture? And is that last picture really the method you use? You can stand on the toilet like that? Very interested in this!

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