How many of you actually think about how you’re sitting on the toilet when you take a crap? (Anyone?) Turns out, it’s something you should consider. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Giulia Enders, the author of Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ (it’s a bestseller in her native Germany and was just released in paperback in English), explains that there is a right way to position yourself on the potty, and it’s all about squatting.
“1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulosis [a condition that occurs when pouches in the bowel become inflamed, leading to abdonimal pain, constipation, and rectal bleeding] and fewer problems with piles [hemorrhoids],” says Enders in the interview. “We in the west, on the other hand, squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms.” (Sorry for the nasty mental image.) Enders, who is studying for a microbiology degree in Frankfurt, Germany, also tells The Guardian that there are various studies showing that people can poop more efficiently if they squat. One 2012 studypublished in the Digestive Diseases and Sciences journal, for instance, found that people who squatted on a 12-inch toilet while pooping took 51 seconds, while those who sat without squatting on a 16-inch toilet took 130 seconds.
Can’t picture what squatting on the toilet looks like? Enders tells The Guardian that you can use a little stool to place your feet on while you’re sitting. Voila—it’s as simple as that. You can also buy what’s called—we sh*t you not—a “Squatty Potty,” to make things even easier.
Try this technique yourself the next time you’ve gotta go. Your bowels will thank you—and maybe you’ll even tone your legs at the same time.