It’s a subject which is rarely discussed.
Nevertheless, one scientist has sensationalized poo, and now everyone’s talking about it.
Giulia Enders, a German microbiologist, contends the way people in Western countries are emptying their bowels is totally wrong. She says rather than sitting on the loo, we should be squatting.
Her book, Charming Bowels, was on the top of the charts for many weeks in her native country. The book explores many gut health issues, from constipation to bacteria.
The message it intends to convey is that the gastrointestinal tract is ‘the brain’s most important adviser’, affecting everything from mental to digestive health.
Nonetheless, it also contains a few practical gems, such as how to poo properly.
Ms Enders, who’s studying in Frankfurt for her medical doctorate in microbiology, explains that sitting is actually wrong, and in fact prolongs the process.
That’s why haemorrhoids (piles) and painful bowel diseases such as diverticulitis are more common in the West than in Asia, she adds.
She reports: ‘1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulitis and fewer problems with piles.
‘We in the West, on the other hand, squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms.’
Then what’s the correct way? Squatting, she replies.
This is because the closure mechanism of the gut is not designed to ‘open the hatch completely’ when we’re sitting down or standing up: it’s like a kinked hose.
One way is to climb on your toilet seat and squat, but the kink can also be ironed out by sitting with your feet on a little stool and leaning forward.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Woman’s Hour, she explained: ‘When you sit or stand, there’s a muscle that goes around the end of the colon and it pulls, so there’s a curve.
‘When we’re in a squatting position, and have a little stool in front of the toilet, then the angle is even and straight, so there’s less pressure needed.’
Experts assert that till the middle of the 19th century squatting was the preferred way – & its demise has led to soaring rates of bowel and digestive issues.
As US-based doctor Joseph Mercola writes on his webpage: ‘Infants instinctively squat to defecate, as does the majority of the world’s population. But he adds the West feel that sitting is more civilised.
And Ms Enders carries on to explain the gastrointestinal tract — it’s the most unappreciated part of the body.
Which leads her on to the subject of sphincters – and the fact we each have two – the inner and the outer.
We consciously open and close – the outer one – when we feel the urge to go to the loo.
The inner sphincter helps us to figure out if it’s safe to go – or pass wind. When we’re at home, we just go ahead.
If it’s not safe, the signals from the sphincter are ignored.
Nonetheless problems arise when the inner sphincter is ignored too many times, triggering constipation.
In her book Ms. Enders also details about the minutiae of the gut.
She explains that our gut contains a staggering two kilos of bacteria.
And these bacteria play a role in digesting our food, determining our mood and energy production, she contends.