Can a New Generation of Toilets Fix the Way We Poop?

The most important seat in the house is getting a much needed makeover that could end up having a huge impact on our health.

image via (cc) flickr user emdot

Sure, everybody poops, but not all poop is created equal. In fact, much of the world goes about the very act of creating poop all wrong. You see, something important happened when our species started using the modern flush toilet. Yes, we took an exponential leap forward in terms of sanitation and cleanliness, but at the cost of our proper pooping posture.

I’m talking about squatting.

While squatting is a tried and true defecation method in places like Asia and the Middle East (oftentimes resulting from a lack of access to adequate bathroom facilities) it’s been out of vogue for much of the western world ever since toilets modeled to look like ordinary chairs became the norm. But while those seats may look nice, they’re actually detrimental to our body’s natural inclination when it comes to number two.

Sitting with our back straight, and our legs planted at a 90 degree angle in front of us doesn’t fully release the puborectalis muscle, which regulates the exit of material from the colon. Squatting, on the other hand, does, and has the added benefit of applying additional pressure to our upper digestive tract, as we pull our knees into our stomach. What’s more, by reducing the amount of strain on our sphincters, squatting can even ease the conditions which lead to hemorrhoids. In 2003, Israeli medical researcher Dov Sikirov published the results of a particularly poopy study which seemed to confirm that sitting down to use the toilet requires “excessive expulsive effort” as compared to squatting, writing:

“Both the time needed for sensation of satisfactory bowel emptying and the degree of subjectively assessed straining in the squatting position were reduced sharply in all volunteers compared with both sitting positions”

In other words, sitting may work, but squatting seems to be what our body is designed to do.

Fortunately, the past several years have seen a surge in ergonomically inclined designers who turning their creative eyes toward the humble toilet, in the hopes of creating a bathroom experience that’s better looking, and better feeling, than what many of us in places where squatting isn’t the norm have now.

In 2013, drainage and plumbing specialists Dyno-Rod held a competition in which a series of concept models were commissioned to re-imagine the standard toilet. The winning design, the Wellbeing Toilet, was created by three graduates of London’s Central Saint Martins’ art school, and is as much a place to do one’s business as it is a work of ergonomic art.

A number of other companies have also gotten into the proper-pooping game. The Squatty Potty, for example, doesn’t re-imagine the toilet itself, but rather is a modular step-stool which allows anyone to tuck into a squatting position without having to replace an expensive bathroom fixture outright.

Similar to the Squatty Potty, the Lilipad is a different step-stool design which allows for multiple squat positions while using a standard flush toilet:

Add to these ranks other products, such as the Sandun-Evaco Toilet Converter, or Nature’s Platform and it becomes clear that, while the standard flush toilet as we know it still largely rules the roost, a new generation of both modular and wholesale fixes are aiming to reinvent how we use the bathroom, starting from the bottom up.

Of course, squatting is possible on a normal toilet, without having to resort to ergonomic re-designs or modular add ons. However, to do so means running the risk of losing your balance mid-squat, toppling over to the side at your most vulnerable moment. Still, the promise of a better bathroom experience may mean that the old way of using the toilet is, well, due to take a seat.

[via inhabitat, mental floss]

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less