For most of human evolution, we relieved ourselves in a squatting position, with our pelvis low to the ground and hips bent in deep flexion. But as we have become more civilized and sedentary, our thrones have risen higher and higher off the ground. While easier for older knees, this raised toilet position may be interfering with ease of defecation.

People in Western countries with raised toilets are much more likely to experience disorders of the digestive and elimination systems than people in nations that do not have high porcelain loos. This predicament begs the question: is there actually a more proper way to poop?

The Price of Poor Poos

Some health care advocates state that health begins in the colon. Complete, frequent elimination is necessary to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. If fecal matter builds up because of constipation, disease and even colon cancer can develop.

When we do not poop efficiently, we set ourselves up for constipation, hemorrhoids, and pelvic floor issues (especially during and after pregnancy). Many modern diseases can be traced back to inefficient elimination and fecal matter buildup.

So what does this have to do with toilets?

Getting it Straight

While diet, fiber intake, exercise, and hydration levels greatly influence our ability to properly poo, a lot of it comes down to position. Historically, humans squatted to poo. As more and more people all over the world have begun using raised toilets, so too have the numbers of colon and pelvic floor disorders risen.

When we are in any position other than squatting, the colon goes into continence mode. It becomes kinked like a garden hose and just a little tense. This mechanism is to keep us from relieving ourselves in inopportune moments.

Trying to defecate when our colons are set to closed is like turning on a hose while holding part of it at a funky angle a little trickle may come out, but the majority of the flow is blocked off. This inability to evacuate completely leads to constipation, and eventually causes the inflamed veins in the anus that we call hemorrhoids.

This unfortunate angle that results from sitting on toilets makes us strain multiple times to try and push the poo out, rather than it releasing naturally as it would when we squat. This straining puts pressure on the prostate and uterus, and temporarily disrupts the cardiac flow which contributes to heart disease.

Squatting, on the other hand, straightens out the anorectal angle so the poo has a straight tube through which to leave the body. Squatting also helps the colon and puborectalis muscle relax, and improves peristalsis. This makes it significantly easier to evacuate completely.

This proper angle protects the pelvic floor nerves and keeps the colon from putting pressure on the uterus and prostate. Daily squatting also prepares pregnant women to have a more natural delivery, avoids putting pressure on the increasingly larger womb, and can help prevent the hemorrhoids that are usually common during pregnancy.

Squatting seals the ileocecal valve, ensuring that fecal matter does not leak from the colon into the small intestines. Pooing in a seated position does not fully close this valve and can cause contamination. The last thing you want is for waste matter to leak into a higher part of the digestive tract.

Getting Ready for a Great Performance

So, while squatting to poo may not be considered civilized, this is one area where it is wise to listen to biology over convention. And squatting to poo is probably easier than you might think.

If you have a conventional bathroom and no means to create a composting toilet outside (which is all the rage with the permaculture community), you can still benefit from a more supportive position. A few companies have begun selling special stools that lift your feet to the proper angle for pooing, and wrap around the toilet for storage when not needed.

If you do not want to get a Squatty Potty or other device, you can use large bricks, small buckets, old Yoga blocks, or a wide low stool under your feet to get your legs to the proper angle. These props can take up more space in your bathroom, but are worth it for the improved positioning when you eliminate.

Some modern conveniences make life easier and more comfortable. But some things that look like improvements actually can jeopardize our health in the long run. The human body is designed to squat when we release waste matter. This position keeps the colon functioning optimally and helps prevent disorders like constipation, hemorrhoids, colon diseases, and pelvic floor issues. While it might feel a little silly at first, when things start flowing more easily you might discover that squatting is the best way to go.