One of the amazing things about my blog growing so quickly is that I now get asked quite frequently to review products. I’ve learned the art of saying no and now only review products that I’m truly interested in. Yes, I was truly interested in trying out a squatty potty.
When the squatty potty PR department asked me if I was “pooping wrong” (literally, that was the subject of the e-mail), I was initially perplexed (isn’t that a bit of a personal question, and why the heck are you asking a mom paleo blogger to review a poop stool?) and then intrigued. I watched the video on their website (which had me smirking). I thought about it overnight, but by morning, my curiosity had the better of me. I responded with a “Yes, please”.
I’ve mentioned this before in other posts (like this one on constipation, which I recently updated) that prior to paleo, I had suffered Irritable Bowel Syndrome with chronic constipation for 12 years. For 12 years prior to paleo, I was on a rotating mixture of laxatives and stool softeners. Once, when I was in grad school, I spent an entire night in the emergency room where the very helpful resident diagnosed me as “full of sh*t” (yes, he literally said that like it was the funniest joke ever) and prescribed a very powerful enema (I was having severe abdominal pain because it had been 2 weeks since my last BM). I am fairly certain that I have permanent nerve damage as a result of more than a decade of chronic constipation. And I still battle the Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth that likely caused it in the first place. Even now, when I give into cravings and eat starchy vegetables, coconut or too much fruit, my symptoms are bloating and constipation. So, yes, the issue of pooping is near and dear to my heart.
So, what’s the deal with the squatty potty? Well, basically the squatty potty is a very cleverly designed stool. It allows you to raise your knees high enough that your body is in a squatting position even though you’re still sitting on the toilet (you can actually properly squat and hover if you prefer). I borrowed the graphic below from the squatty potty website to show how this change in position changes the internal alignment. It means that a) gravity is working for you, and b) everything is lined up so you aren’t trying to push around a corner.
Squatting is a natural position for, well, many things. It’s actually one of the things that Mark Sisson talks about in his (completely awesome) new book: The Primal Connection. Before chairs, people would squat to relax, to eat, to chat. Squatting is a natural position for giving birth. And of course, before the invention of the toilet, squatting was the only position available. After all the natural childbirth education I went through before having my daughters, you’d think I would have drawn the connection between squatting as a birth position to help push out a baby and squatting as a poop position. Well, better late than never. Suffice it to say, squatting is a natural position for pooping.
There’s also some really convincing scientific studies supporting squatting as a healthier way to poop (of course, scientific studies use more technical terms than “poop”). For example, this study compared the Iranian-style toilet (squatting style) to the European-style toilet (what you are probably used to) and concluded:
“Use of the Iranian-style toilet seems to be a more comfortable and efficient method of bowel evacuation than the European style. Further studies are needed to ascertain the optimal approximation of the measurements to standard height of toilets for ordinary use.”
And this study concluded:
“The results of the present study suggest that the greater the hip flexion achieved by squatting, the straighter the rectoanal canal will be, and accordingly, less strain will be required for defecation.”
And this is my favorite study, which concludes:
“The present study confirmed that sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying in sitting defecation posture necessitates excessive expulsive effort compared to the squatting posture.”
The squatty potty fixes your posture while going to the bathroom. And this simple change can dramatically improve constipation, hemorrhoids, colon disease, urinary difficulty/infections, and pelvic floor issues (just in case you thought this was limited to ease of pooping). Did I mention that Mark Sisson plugs the squatty potty in his book? (I only read The Primal Connection just over a week ago, so I was feeling all proud of myself that I was already using a squatty potty when I read that chapter.)
So, what is my personal experience with the squatty potty? I’ve been using it for about 6 weeks (I wanted to give it a thorough trial run before writing this review). And, as my 6-year old would say, holly smolly guacamole. This thing is ridiculously awesome. It is not natural to love a stool as much as I do, but I can’t help it. It really is more comfortable and easier to go from a squatting position. It doesn’t feel like work (and, at least for me, it used to feel like work more often than not). And, I have overdone sugar in the last 6 weeks (wish I could say that was in order to thoroughly test out the squatty potty, but it’s really just giving into sugar cravings due to being overrun with writing the book) and had the usual response by my body. But, I didn’t have to suffer the severe discomfort of going to the bathroom after my sugar indulgence that I normally do thanks to the squatty potty. Yes, I am very impressed. Actually, I am in love.
The only downside? Less time to read.
Lest you think that any stool can do this job, let me tell you a couple of features of the squatty potty that make it worth the $10-$20 extra bucks over a regular stool. It’s wide so you can place your feet in a variety of positions depending on your hip width and what’s comfortable for you. It’s slightly angled so you can have your feet slightly angled up or down depending on the flexibility in your ankles and what’s comfortable for you. And probably best of all, it tucks right under the toilet bowl due to its shape so it is completely out of your way when you aren’t using it. I now only go to the bathroom in the one bathroom in the house than has a squatty potty… time to buy another one, I think. Actually, I think these will make great Christmas presents this year (head’s up family, you’re getting poop stools for Christmas! And a copy of The Paleo Approach. Woot!).
So, where can you get a squatty potty? You can buy them direct from www.squattypotty.com and you can buy them off amazon. The 9” squatty potty is better if you are tall, are fairly flexible, or have a higher toilet. The 7” squatty potty is better if you are shorter, less flexible or have a lower toilet. It even comes in bamboo if you think that utilitarian white won’t match your bathroom.
So, in the words of the squatty potty PR department, are you pooping wrong?