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Most of us who work standing up or use a stand-up desk can attest to the fact that we seem to get a thumbs up from our colon. In fact some of us will even admit we suffer from less constipation than our 90 degree angle sitt’n brethren.
Sitting may impede flow, flow that occurs hours before one needs to empty his bowels. And not only do angles play a part in this but when one sits, their abdominal cavity shrinks, as opposed to stretching when standing up. An individual who is standing allows more volume of abdominal room for the colon to work.
Additionally, pressure from sitting and the chair may cause undue pressure on the lower colon. If you think back to high school physics, pressure has to be less at the destination of flow. True, mass and density can vary based on poop amount but even NASA gets it (see below).
….where “choke” is the act of sitting.
Even in basic terms, our caveman forefathers and mothers realized that standing made an easier bowel evacuation, (standing and squatting even easier). So 2019 humans may need to go old school, doing less sitting and more standing.
A study from Ohio State University reinforces the theory that putting your feet up when you poop helps passage.
Studies have long suggested that standing or squatting when we poop is more natural and easier on our bowels. When we sit angled with our legs at a 90 degree angle to our torso, we may worsen constipation. (you see why we needed to learn geometry in school…)
Dr. Peter Stanich and colleagues used a sample size of 52 people and of those who used a stool when they pottied, 71% reported faster bowel movements and 90% reported less straining.
They cite these “defecation posture modification devices” are a natural way to help one evacuate their bowels without relying always on medication.
So how do we define constipation?
Constipation is a decrease in frequency of bowel movements or difficulty passing stool that persists longer than one’s normal bowel movement cycle. In general, less than three bowel movements a week could be considered constipation.20-30% of the US population suffers from constipation and this percentage increases in those who are elderly or confined to medical facilities. Some people have hard stools that are difficult to pass with normal motility, whereas others have soft stool but poor motility.
What causes constipation?
A variety of factors could be the culprit. These include:
- Lack of water
- Lack of fiber in one’s diet
- Certain foods in one’s diet such as cheese, diary, fat, gluten, those high in meat
- Lack of exercise
- Hormone fluctuations
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Laxative abuse
- Eating disorders
- Medications such as narcotics, antidepressants, iron supplements
- Constipation should never be ignored………
What should our stool look like?
When someone is constipated, the stool is not moving through the colon as quickly as it should. The more hours and days it sits in the colon, the more water is absorbed. So the stool churns and churns becoming dryer, smaller and harder. So pebbles or rock-like stool is a sign of constipation. Conversely, as in diarrhea, stool has not been processed by the colon properly, water has not been absorbed and thus it appears very soft or liquid-like. This puts one at risk of dehydration. Therefore healthy stool is a happy medium.
Using the Bristol Stool Chart, the ideal stool would be in the shapes of Type 4 and 5.
What should I do if I’m constipated?
First drink more water. Secondly look at your diet and see if you have any offending agents such as dairy or fried foods. Thirdly visit your medical provider for an evaluation. Finally, try and relax. Many of us have difficulty pooping because we are stressed or on a time crunch. Your body doesn’t care if you have a meeting in 5 minutes. The body likes to relax when it relieves itself so grab a magazine, or my blog, and take some time out of your day to poop. Sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses……