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Are we pooping wrong? Not everyone needs to squat, expert says

by Linda Carroll / / Source: TODAY Contributor

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If you've seen one of the many posts touting the benefits of squat toilets, you may wonder if you've been missing out all your life.

 Close-up Of A Person's Hand Using Toilet Paper Shutterstock

There are some benefits to squatting but doctors say, as long as you're comfortable, there's no wrong way to poop.

"There is a physiological basis for it," said Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist from Princeton, New Jersey, and co-author of "What Your Poo is Telling You." "But I can't say that everyone needs to squat."

Related: Sorry, germaphobes. Toilet seat liners are pointless and here's why

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Sheth says there is a set of muscles—puborectalis—that forms a sort of sling holding the stool inside you. Squatting relaxes the muscles and allows the rectum, the last part of the colon, to become straight. And that, Sheth says, "can allow people to feel a more effortless evacuation so they don't have to force as much.

"The support for squat toilets has come about because studies have shown that conditions, such as hemorrhoids and diverticulosis, are more common in the industrialized countries than in developing nations, Sheth says. And experts have pointed their fingers at the standard toilet as a probable cause.

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Still, Sheth isn't suggesting everyone go out to buy a squat toilet.

"The bottom line," he says, "is that if you're not constipated and you're eating healthy, meaning you're getting enough fiber and enough water, most people don't have trouble going the bathroom. If you are having trouble, maybe you could go out in the wilderness for a couple of days and try squatting. If it makes you feel better, then maybe you should invest in one."

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