Boosting your Immunity Tip #3: Ergonomic Pooping

Squatty potty

This week’s tip for boosting immunity–try the benefits of ergonomic pooping.  Um.   Really.  Don’t you love that title?  I can’t believe I’m going to go there but…okay, I’m going to go there.

If you grew up visiting elderly relatives or neighbors–who had a far different definition of regular than you did and you felt like, Omigod, how fast can I get out of here because I don’t want to hear this stuff?– then you understand my reluctance to write about this now.

“At what age,” a friend of mine said to me, “does it become socially acceptable to discuss openly your bathroom habits?”

We decided that 50 was too young.

Okay, so full disclosure:  Constipation is not one of my issues, at least not at this point in my life, though I fully recognize that it’s more likely as I age.  I’ve had that problem precisely once in my life, a side effect of a temporary diet that did not suit me, so I do have an understanding of what it is and how it can make a person feel.

Maybe it was taught in high school biology and I’d forgotten, but I was truly surprised a few years ago to learn how much of your body’s immunity is based on the health of your intestines.  That means that you don’t want toxic shit–pardon the irresistible pun–sitting in your body for days at a time.  Hence the importance of moving it right on out on a regular basis.   Ah.  Now all those elderly relatives’ concerns make sense.

Now that you know how timely pooping relates to boosting your immunity, let’s talk about how the prim and proper progress of modern plumbing, particularly in the US, may have negative side effects on the, um, effectiveness of your, um, pooping and the efficiency of your immune system.  (See?   This is such a delightful article to write!)

I’ve read a number of studies and statistics in the last two years on the differences between people who, as part of their daily toilet habits, squat over an open hole and those who take the more “civilized” method of perching on the edge of sewer pipe, as Milan Kundera called toilets in The Unbearable Lightness of Being.   (It’s important to be well-read when talking about poop.)  From what I’ve read, it seems that squatting is better for countering incontinence, constipation, and even preventing appendicitis because it doesn’t force feces into the appendix.  Most Americans I know can’t even squat ergonomically, with the exception of a few Cross-Fitters I know who actually can squat on their heels rather than on the balls of their feet.  The problem with modern toilets is that the body is not at an appropriate angle for, um, ergonomic processing.

I overheard my gynecologist reminding a post-menopausal woman to practice squats on her heels on a regular basis as therapy for incontinence.  He also recommended, for constipation relief, that the woman place two small foot stools about 7 inches tall on either side of her toilet and place her feet on them to get into the right ergonomic position.  I thought that was such a great idea that i bought several Squatty Potties for the older people on my Christmas list last year.   I was a little worried about what they would think of such a personal gift, but their responses were far more joyful than I could have anticipated.  In fact, several called me back to tell me, “Wow! That really works!”

So that’s your challenge for the week:  get yourself a Squatty Potty, two small stools, a stack of books, yoga blocks, whatever, to put on either side of your toilet and see what kind of difference a new, um, angle makes for you.

Normally, I’d say, “Don’t forget to come back and tell me how you did!” but I’ll let you keep it to yourself this time.