The straight poop: Why you should think about using squat toilets

October 4 | Guest post by Janet Miller
Squatty Potty FTW!
Squatty Potty FTW!

Up until the invention of the flushing toilet, all humans squatted in order to defecate, and it is even intrinsic nature for children to do so when they feel the need to go. Many parents use this as a clue in potty training — when they see it, they know their child needs to use the bathroom.

There are even some devices that help with this, even if you are still using a toilet. Some people use specially designed stools that fit around the base of the toilet, while still others use stacks of old telephone books or other books, in and effort to raise their feet enough to mimic the squatting scenario.

The science behind squatting

Human bodies were designed to squat to aid the elimination process. There is a muscle, called the Puborectalis muscle, which creates a natural kink in the colon. Its purpose is to aid the body for continence purposes. It is this muscle that allows us to "hold it" until we get somewhere to use the bathroom.

When a person sits on a conventional toilet, this muscle creates a kink at the end of your colon, putting your knees at a ninety-degree angle to your abdomen, and stops the natural flow and evacuation of the contents. This means that it takes longer to use the bathroom, it causes you to strain unnecessarily and it can lead to constipation and hemorrhoids.

In a squatting position, the Puborectalis muscle completely relaxes and allows for quicker more complete elimination, thus alleviating the problems that were being caused by sitting and straining for long periods of time. There are even case studies that show the differences in positions for defecation, and how they affect the human body — all of them pointing back to squatting as the better position.

In many non-Western cultures, squatting is still the normal way to have a bowel movement. Even well known doctors, have touted the benefits of squatting over sitting on the toilet.

Asian Bathrooms

Many Asian bathrooms are very different than the ones in the Western world. They have toilets that must be squatted over, and even when given the choice to use Western style toilets, a lot of Asian people believe the best toilet is the Eastern toilet. While that is mainly because it is what they are used to, and they also know the scientific and holistic evidence that they are much more healthy and better for colon health.

You can find detailed accounts on how to use these types of toilets and if you will be traveling to this area, you will certainly need the know how. The toilets are much different, as is the flushing mechanism, and if you have never used the bathroom by squatting, you might need a few pointers on that as well. For anyone who has never been there, it will be like a whole new world, but with a few pointers and a bit of practice, you should learn to use them with ease.

There are even some people who will refuse to use a sit down toilet, stating that they cannot evacuate their bowels fully any other way than using a squat toilet. This says a lot towards the evidence that it’s better for you. While there isn’t a lot of scientific studies to prove a lot of what has been said about squatting, the fact that some people will use nothing else speaks volumes to the fact that there is truly something different as well as better, about squatting instead of sitting.

In Closing

There are advocates both for and against squatting as a main method of using the bathroom. It is interesting to note though, squatters outnumber sitters across the world and those who swear by squatting often do not speak well of sitting. Some have said toilets you sit on are only for rich people, or those who have plenty of time to sit, without important jobs to get back to. The sitters, on the other hand, can often times view squat toilets as unsanitary and impossible to use.

Squat toilets are much harder to use if a person is overweight or elderly. Because of that, the Government in many Asian countries is attempting to put in more public sitting commodes. They hope to, at some point, have these commodes in at least fifty percent of homes. The UN, however, has stated that about one third of the entire world’s population have nothing more than a bucket or hole in the dirt to use as a bathroom facility, which can lead to ravaging diseases, most of which are contagious.

These reports should not lead one to believe, however, that squat toilets are doomed and on their way out. As many more Westerner’s embrace the ideology of squatting, they may just make a comeback instead.

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  1. We bought a house from an older couple who had installed an extra tall toilet…it's horrible and definitely makes it difficult to do your business when your feet can't be flat on the floor! We bought a squatty potty (the foot stool that fits around the toilet to create a better squat position) and I don't know what I would do without it, especially now that I'm pregnant and certain toilet acitivities have become more difficult! If you're debating whether to buy one, they are absolutely worth it (though they do come up on Groupon occasionally for a really great deal!)

    1 agrees
  2. I had never heard about the squatting position before one of my co-workers brought a squatty potty in to use in the bathroom at work. I gave it shot and loved it! Since my natural rhythm has me going mid-morning every day it's great to have one have work and I really feel that it's easier and better than sitting.

    1 agrees
  3. There are also many in Asia who refuse to use a squatting toilet because they think it's uncomfortable (or just old-fashioned). In Taiwan public toilets in rural areas still offer squat options – sometimes it's the only option – but in cities most public toilets will be Western-style. Almost every home toilet is now Western-style.

    Squats are also hard to use if you have certain injuries, are overweight (hard to squat and get back up) or simply elderly.

    I agree that squat toilets are healthier and more natural. However, I prefer to use a Western toilet for two simple reasons:

    1.) Difficulty of non-excretion functions: living in Asia, I still sometimes get stomach ailments (even though Taiwan is a first-world country, it's still tropical/subtropical) and it's nearly impossible to puke in a squat toilet without making a huge mess or being very uncomfortable. Also, it's harder to wipe myself on a squat toilet.

    2.) I…um…don't have great aim. Yeeeeahhh…you need to practically be a bombardier to get your poo in those toilets without making a bit of a mess (or 'hitting the lip') – cleaning up is not fun. When traveling, I will use squats to pee as it's easier to aim, but unless there is truly no Western option, I will not use them to poop.

    So I can assure you, not everyone moves to Asia and is converted to the squat toilet.

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  5. In some ways I think the western/squattin' combo is the best- you can still rest your butt on the seat, but get your feet up high enough to relax that muscle. Less balance needed.

    3 agree
  6. No need to spend $25+ on a squatty potty when you can get a cheap plastic kids' step stool at the dollar store!

  7. I'm a small person. I will acctually pull my feet up onto the toilet seat when I'm having difficulties. Walking in on my 5 year old, I've een he does the same thing.

  8. My husband got his dad a Squatty Potty half as a joke, half as curiosity. His dad loved it so much, that he bought another one for the second bathroom. Seriously, the thing is amazing. Just bringing your knees up a few inches really helps. While we don't currently own one in our apartment, I just put my feet up on the lip of the waste bin to some success.

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