Thursday, March 28, 2013

Product review: The Squatty Potty

Its time for some potty talk. As a dietitian, I am pretty comfortable discussing all things number 2 - patients, clients (and friends and family) can have a lot of questions on the topic. I thought I heard it all, and then an NPR segment taught me I had more to learn!

Did you know that many cultures around the world would be horrified at the idea of sitting on a toilet? Many folks around the world squat when eliminating and it may be time for us to consider adopting their technique.


There is a muscle that does a U-turn around the end of your colon. The big idea is that when we are sitting on our toilets with our feet flat on the ground, this muscle isn't fully relaxed and can inhibit bowel movements - think about an older sibling giving you a noogie. This inhibition can increase the desire to "strain" and may lead to hemorrhoids. By elevating your feet, this muscle is able to relax and elimination should be easier. My sister is almost through with her training to become a physical therapist and I asked her if the concept was accurate and she said yes. When I checked out their website, I signed up to receive a complimentary Squatty Potty so I could take it for, er, a spin.

Also on their website were a few peer reviewed studies that investigated the possible health benefits or hazards with the two bathroom postures. As a registered dietitian, I am trained to look for the evidence.I was pleased to see this supporting literature. As of yet, there is not a trial using the Squatty Potty. This is in the planning phase.

My experience? I did think that it was easier to use the bathroom with the Squatty Potty. And, having my knees pressed to my chest was surprisingly comforting, kind of like curling up in the fetal position in bed. Cozy. 

If you're interested in trying this technique, grab a stack of phone books or yoga blocks and prop up your feet. If you find it to be helpful, check out the Squatty Potty website to purchase your own.

Nutritional note: many things contribute to risk of constipation. Staying well hydrated, eating whole foods that are rich in fiber, regular consumption of fermented foods with probiotics as well as exercise can all lower risk of constipation.

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