Saturday, December 31, 2011

Squat to Good Health

I really cannot remember when I started sitting instead of squatting when I have to visit the toilet. I guess it would be some 35 years ago after I left home to be in the big city and gotten the experience of nice hotel and airport toilets.

This is from my earlier post,

"Right at the back of the house was the bathroom and an adjoining squatting toilet. The bathroom was only build before mid 1960s. It was in this bathroom that I practiced my singing skills. I did not know if my neighbors ever complained of my singing. There were no electric heaters in those days so when I needed hot water, like when I was unwell, my mother would boil a kettle of hot water and mix in the cold water for me to bath in. The toilet (it was actually a latrine) was not a place to stay in for long as it stank from the faeces that were collected once every week by the nightsoil lorry. Years later, around 1975, when a sitting toilet was installed everybody was relieved. I guess that was a sign of progress."

As I already left home in 1966 I never really used a sitting toilet when I was in my hometown. I was a squatter in my youth. Even in Form 6 and university the houses I stayed in still had squatting toilets because they were built in the 1960s or earlier when sitting toilets were not yet fashionable. It was a 'white man's' invention that we Chinese found alien to adapt but as time passes we did, we discovered it was more hygienic and pleasant to lower ourselves halfway rather than all the way. And less chance of wetting our pants too.

After I graduated in 1971 and stayed in different houses I cannot recall being a 'sitting duck' inside a cubicle. Worse I cannot recall when it was I momentously enjoyed my very first moment of shitting sitting rather than squatting. Perhaps it wasn't an event worth recalling to be remembered but in hindsight I should have documented it somewhere because thereafter I disliked squatting. Maybe it reminded me of the poorer and less sophisticated past, maybe fewer squatting toilets exist to be discovered in an emergency when you need to 'do your business'. But recently when I was at the Changi International Airport I was pleasantly surprised to discover they have a squatting toilet which I chose to use unhesitatingly. It was cleaner although it took me more efforts to get down and get up.

Over the years as I grow older I got used to sitting because it becomes increasingly harder to squat even if I choose to. Mild obesity and weak knees are justifying excuses. However using sitting toilets in public facilities turns me off unless disposable paper seat covers are provided. In an emergency I confess to using many pieces of toilet papers to protect my bump from the unclean toilet seat. In a most dirty scenario when previous users had already dirtied the seat I'd had no choice but lift it up and squat on top. Gratefully all those toilets have successfully bored my weight and not cracked. There should be a disclaimer of no liability or maximum allowable carrying weight.

Today I read an online article claiming the virtues of squatting over sitting and analyzing the rationale I agree completely. I don't have the website but the article was written by a Stephanie Relfe. She explains:

The anal canal is UNSTRAIGHTENED when seated. Bowel evacuation when seated results frequently in OBSTRUCTIVE CONSTIPATION. Adopt a relaxed, FULL SQUAT POSTURE and the anal canal STRAIGHTENS. In a sitting position the puborectalis muscle chokes the rectum causing incontinence. Squatting relaxes that muscle and straightens the rectum allowing smoother and faster voiding of the feces. (Last two sentences slightly edited).

I wish to add another reason. When one squats we compress our intestinal cavity which help and assist squeezing of the feces as well as requiring less push.

The design of modern toilets must be modified to encourage squatting and aiding senior and handicapped users to squat with suitable handrails. Maybe someone can design a combination sit-squat toilet which can be lowered-raised at will. Alternatively in homes with more then one toilet, designate one to be a squat type.

I don't know if sitting contributes to pile development or as the author suggested rising cases of colon cancers caused by poor diet and lack of exercises. But I do believe that if we squat more we can achieve a healthier body. It was after all the only way our ancestors knew each time they answered the calls of nature.

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