East Meets West: Can Squatty Potty Fix America’s Toilet Issues?

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist October 9, 2012

Editor’s Note: During my travels through Asia in the late 1980′s, one of the most difficult adjustments was the extreme difference in toilet habits between Eastern and Western culture. You can imagine my shock and surprise when I first entered a public facility in Japan only to be greeted by the toilet pictured to the right!

Believe it or not, these Asian style toilets are really quite easy to use (except on a moving train) and actually facilitate Nature’s Call much better than Western versions – provided you are steady on your feet and have a decent set of quads!

Now, the wisdom of Asian toilets has finally made it to America in the form of squatty stools of all shapes and sizes.  In today’s post, Fitness Editor Paula Jager CSCS opines in hilarious fashion on her newest toy – for the bathroom!

By Fitness Editor Paula Jager, CSCS

I don’t know about you all but nothing kicks my morning off better than answering Nature’s Call.  It just sets the stage for the whole day–especially when you’re able to drop a solid brick or two.  Hey, we all do it; some easier than others, some more than others.  It’s not talked about a lot and there’s usually not a lot of thought going into it but it happens.

While some things are done in solitude in a marriage, and this is definitely one of them in my book that doesn’t mean you don’t discuss it with each other.  Up until I was about 35 years old, it was a 3x a week event if I was lucky.  I never thought much about it and to me it was “normal”. My husband on the other hand has always been Mr. 2-3 Times a Day.  He thought I was abnormal.  When I got into fitness on a serious note and perhaps I may also have been paying better attention to diet that’s when things started moving–daily.  I felt much better and became Ms. Every Morning.

Let’s fast forward about 17 years and he and I are both the same way.  Things had been going pretty smooth for the most part for both of us but every once in a while there was a tad of struggle or a feeling that it didn’t all come out. Why is it that some people struggle more than others?

A healthy diet, metabolism and digestive process would certainly come into play here along with proper hydration but could there be something else?  Could we be doing something “wrong?”  I’d often wondered about this and a few months ago I came across a very interesting post on FB about a “Squatty Potty”.  When I first checked them out I was amazed, watched the video shaking my head “uh, huh, uh huh” and immediately ordered one.

I was so excited; I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.  I told my husband about it and he replied “are you nuts, people have been going to the bathroom for 1000’s of years” why do we need a Squatty Potty, especially me?”  “And how much did it cost?” I tried to explain to him that “thousands of years ago” or even a couple of hundred years ago people squatted when they went to the bathroom.  Plain and simple, very instinctual they squatted down booty to ankles and out it came.  To their credit their diet was most likely much better since there were less processed, refined and fast foods.  But that’s a whole other story.  When the modern toilet was designed in the throes of the industrial revolution in the mid 1800’s it was designed to sit on like a throne rather than the way the natives did it.  Many doctors at the time worried about this causing health problems because it went against nature.

That design placed the body in an unnatural position.  Let’s review the mechanics of going to the bathroom.  People control their defecation to some degree by contracting or releasing the anal sphincter.  The muscle however cannot maintain continence on its own.  The body relies on a bend between the rectum–where feces builds up–and the anus–where it comes out.  When we’re standing or sitting, the extent of this bend called the anorectal angle is about 90 degrees, which puts upward pressure on the rectum.  This keeps the feces inside and creates the need for straining to evacuate.  Attempting to defecate in the improper position (i.e. modern toilet) is like trying to defecate through a kinked garden hose. It just doesn’t work.  The squatting posture straightens out the bend and elimination becomes much easier and complete.

Why Squatting Gets the Job Done Better

Research shows the following advantages of the squatting posture

  • non invasive treatment for hemorrhoids;  most will heal without relapse when this posture is adopted for bowel movements.
  • Making elimination faster, easier and more complete will help to prevent colon cancer, appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Protects the nerves of the pelvic floor from becoming stretched and damaged (FLAT TUMMY anyone?)
  • Seals the ileocecal valve preventing leakage into the small intestine.
  • Relaxes the puborectalis muscle which normally chokes the colon to maintain continence.
  • Prevents hernias, diverticulitis and pelvic organ prolapse by using the thighs to support the colon and prevent straining.
  • For pregnant women, squatting avoids pressure on the uterus and helps prepare one for a more natural delivery.

Well, that all sounded good to me.  I was thrilled when it arrived; and wow, you could actually feel the difference immediately.  You could feel it going straight down–plop!  I hopped off the squatty potty and my day was good to go–woo hoo!  I was convinced from the start but the true test was with Mr. 2-3 Times a Day.  About 3 days later I get home from work and the first thing my husband says to me it ‘wow, PJ–that Squatty Potty works”.  I thought you didn’t need it dear, I replied.  “Well, it just makes it better”.  How so dear?  “It all comes out”.

And this past weekend hubby spent 3 nights away from home with his college roommates for the USF game and a golfing weekend.  When he got home after a hug and kiss he mentioned how much he missed his Squatty Potty–that it “just wasn’t the same” and he needed to “clean things out”.  TMI?  Well, I’m just making a point.

The Squatty Potty slides right under your toilet and comes in white plastic, white wood and bamboo styles.  It also comes in 3 different heights 5”, 7” and 9” depending upon the height of your toilet.  We got the 9” Squatty Classic in white wood.  But I’ll be adding the bamboo for my downstairs bath soon.

There are a few other versions out there for simple purchase or you could purchase an actual squat toilet like Sarah pictured above like they have in Asia.

Either way, take your health up a notch by improving elimination and getting your butt off the toilet.


Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar.

Her exercise and nutrition programs yield life changing results




Comments (90)

  1. Wow! That brings back memories of my trip to Singapore in 1984. I was in a park with some friends and needed to go. I was totally unprepared for what I saw. I had no clue what to do. :)
    On the other hand, the house I was staying in had a western style toilet that often had foot prints on the seat because the Asian visitors had no clue how to use it.

    • Uhhh, I guess they chose to purposefully use it like a squat toilet for the sake of hygienism, not because they had no clue how to use it.

  2. I lived in Korea for six years and got to be quite fond of the squatting toilets when I was there. I had no idea that you could buy them for your homes here. I won’t be going that far though. I will be checking out the squatty potty. I think it’s a great idea.
    Lovelyn\’s last post: Natural Health Remedies

  3. In 2007 my family and I went to China for 9 months….that was quite an adjustment learning to use these potties. We didn’t have to the whole time, as we were in an Expatriate Compound most of the time…but several times we were forced to…really different!

  4. Sarah, I had heard this a few years ago from some friends that work in surgery. I think it is a great idea! Also, I know this is off topic, but I just watched a video about a New York attorney, Patricia Finn, and she is being harassed because she is a vaccine rights attorney, and trying to defend parents and children who do not choose to vaccinate. Just want everyone to know that she could use some support, in whatever way possible. Thanks!

  5. Ayurveda would then look at lifestyle as well as whether that excellent diet was appropriate for the person’s nature and current state – we look at stage of life, sleeping habits, type of work, amount of stress, and daily/seasonal routines. what may seem healthy (and even be healthy) for one may simply be less appropriate! ie one should eat mostly raw and/or veggie while another needs warm, cooked, and include animal products! squatty potty would fall under the lifestyle and daily routine parts…

  6. Rose Thompson Wolfe via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Yeah, while we were on GAPS my stools were so soft I had issues going. I resorted to actually squatting on the seat. This is a better option LOL

  7. Positioning of the colon is key … even if everything else is perfect if you aren’t using gravity and angles correctly, it is going to cause problems and potentially damage to the intestinal tract as well. This is what the Asians have figured out so well with their toilets versus the western ones.

  8. I didn’t learn much about the benefits of traditional toilets until I returned from Japan last year. I spent 3 years in Japan, not thinking about seeking out their health food/traditional lifestyles until the last 6 months there. For the first couple of years, I would get so upset if there was only a traditional toilet (for example, at a lot of train stations) and I really had to go! It was so hard for my muscles to do the squat. Haha. If only I had known!

    • I heard about this in passing a few years back, but I never paid it much attention. I wish I had now that I am finding out that it is truly the best and only real method for proper body waste disposal.

      This is probably TMI, but I have had internal hemorrhoids for the past 10 years that have slowly gotten worse every year, along with quite a bit of bleeding 90% of the time I use the restroom. The doctors I saw told me that surgery was the only thing they could do for me, but I don’t have the money or the desire to be cut open and stitched back together anywhere on my body unless I am dying.

      I would like to try squatting on the toilet seat, but I a afraid as a grown man I would break the toilet and water and shards of porcelain would go everywhere. :( What am I to do if I can’t get this squat pot? I am in New Zealand at the moment.

  9. Carol Tonne via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:16 am

    thanks for this post Sarah, i’ve been wanting to know where to get one of these. Is it really called squatty potty? lol Going to your website to find out. :)

  10. After watching their video on YouTube, I started squatting on the seat to go as well. It takes awhile to get used to — seems weird to have to take your pants right off just to go to the toilet! And initially there were some aiming issues to sort out. But I have to say everything sure works better now. I think there was a lot of “stuff” getting left behind because it was blocked before; I’m way more productive since I adopted the squat.

  11. Tina Zanetti via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I read this in a book of Chinese Medicine. It makes sense!! However for those with toliet issues, looking into the underlying cause is important.

  12. This is totally going to change my life! My entire family suffers from hemorrhoids, so I’m definitely going to share this with them!

  13. Diana Weeks via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I always thought this made more sense, since I travelled to Japan and saw these toilets (after my horror had faded).. my mothers Dr. also recommended using a stool for ur feet (cheaper alternative).

  14. Mandi McBride Jensen via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:34 am

    We use a “stool stool” in our house and it has made a huge difference! The squatty potty is on my wish list.

  15. Real Granola via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Adding this to my wishlist and it’s a must for women with prolapse issues. Check out the work of Christine Kent for info on this issue.

  16. As an alternative to a purchase, or to just try it out before buying, I’ve flipped a laundry basket upside down to rest my feet on while going. It seems to create the same effect & works quite well for me!

  17. I am getting one of these! LOL. My six year old daughter puts her feet up on the rim so she can get the same effect and I was trying to figure out how to make it safer for her.

  18. Becky Sher via Facebook October 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    When I took my family to visit Hong Kong in 2008, my then 8-year old refused to use one of those toilets you posted on your website. Yes, some of the really old public facilities have not been updated yet even though the government have surplus in their budget.

  19. I had read about this elimination technique months ago. I was super intrigued, so we started leaving our daughter’s potty- stool in front of the potty when we needed to go. Now, I wish every bathroom I use, was equipped with something like this. Because I really miss it when I am away from home. Thank you for posting :)

  20. I have read about these for several years now ….always wanted to try one. I also have done the up turned laundry basket and also overturned waste basket….they do seem to work. My one hold back from actually getting the squatty potty is my family. Now I live alone….but lot’s use my bathroom….and I can just hear them now….
    Because i eat quite differently than most of them….this will just be one more thing to make fun of me about.
    We hike in the Rocky Mts a lot ….and well if you have to go , you squat and go! And it does work! And you do have to have strong legs hee hee…..I just don’t want to explain this new addition to my family. :(

  21. d the eastern one i would go in my shoe. thats what happens in the woods unless i hold a tree or lean back agaist a tree or find a fallin tree.lol

    • Oh Megan! Yes i have dribbled on my shoe a time or two in the mountains and you have to be careful which way the wind is blowing! :)

  22. That is such an interesting article and it made me think back to how my ASD son was tolieting when doing poops, he would put his feet on the toliet set and squat, it was something we kept discouraging getting him to sit on the toliet yet according to the article it was good for him.

  23. Wow, the east always seem to be way ahead in preventive medicine then the west. Wonder why? I’ve always had to wonder why its so difficult “to go completely”.

  24. my family has been using what we call a poop stool for probably 15+ years now. i have lost count of how many people have laughed at me/us but once they try it they stop laughing! my grandpa is a woodworker and makes sure we are all well supplied with poop stools. i recently received a second one for our basement bathroom and didn’t even have to ask for it. he rocks!

  25. El Temeroso via Facebook October 11, 2012 at 12:42 am

    God, the immigrants in Winnipeg do that squatting up here on our toilets at work. Not only do they make a mess, but they end up ripping the toilets out of the ground or sliding off and spraining an ankle!

  26. Cecilia Faith Leming via Facebook October 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Love ours, we have a plastic one in every bathroom! A lot easier to keep clean since we have little boys with aim issues. ;)

  27. apparently that bend has not been made straight since surgury in mid july, this is going to be a very painful retraining exsperiance.

  28. Pingback: Wednesday Reading « Healthcare Economist

  29. I grew up with an outhouse that had both a seat and a squat option and I didn’t realize why I always picked the squat until we honeymooned in Turkey. The squat toilets were so comfy and so easy to use (even the ones on the train!). I lost about 10lbs in the month that we were there, even though I ate like a queen. Now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if the toilets contributed to that…

    There is also this product, which is primarily marketed at toilet training kids, but might help adults who want to get their squat on: http://www.littlelooster.com/

  30. Brings back memories from our beach vacation in Bulgaria in 1980. I use a regular kid’s step stool and it works too. The benefits are truly significant. My post baby hemorrhoids are better!

  31. Sitting with your feet propped up on a footstool like the Squatty Potty is not genuine squatting. On a 1 to 10 scale where 10 is a real squat, the footstool method is about a 3. That’s impressive for those who have struggled with western toilets all their lives. But for those who are familiar with squatting it’s quite ineffective and uncomfortable. We have to return to true squatting, starting with our children. Learn more about this subject at http://www.naturesplatform.com/faq.html

  32. Pingback: The Squatty Potty Pooping Stool Review – Does it Work? | Green Idea Reviews

  33. Squatting seems like a good idea, but it seems to me “sqatting” yet now placing almost 100% of your weight on your butt, and having said butt almost forced through a restrictive toilet seat “horsehoe” by your body weight may create new problems for the anus or rectum. The old way, a good bit of your weight is still on your feet and undersides of thighs, but not with this new seat. Has anyone measured that potential damage?

  34. Pingback: Testing, Testing: The Squatty Potty | FreshandFreeinOC

  35. I bought one. Hubby thought I was nuts! But he uses it and admitted he notices the difference when he travels and goes without one. ;-)

  36. Kaufman, of Kaufman’s department stores in Pittsburgh, had a regular toilet buried in the tile floor so it would be lower and he could squat when he commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design Falling Water. He like to squat – felt it was healthier and more natural. He had the toilets installed at regular height in the guest bathrooms!

  37. Thanks! great article – I just ordered two! this is the best version of a toilet squatting device I’ve seen

    Seeing your photo brings back memories of traveling in France, Spain and Turkey in my 20s and squatting in the Drakensberg mountains of S Africa while on backpacking trips – it really does help to squat!


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