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.
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.
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.