YOU might think that you’ve got pooing nailed.
You’ve been doing it the same way all your life – sitting on the loo, giving your bum a thorough wipe before flushing, washing your hands and going on your merry way.
But it turns out that most of us are actually doing it wrong.
And loads of us don’t know the vital symptoms we all need to be able to spot in our poo that could be indicative of killer diseases like bowel cancer.
So here are the common mistakes you’re probably making – and how to rectify them:
1. You’re not checking your poo
One of the reasons people die from bowel cancer is that it’s not caught in time.
Some of that will be down to not being in tune with what’s normal for their own bodies – and not flagging to their GPs the moment somethign odd happens.
The only way you can tell if something potentially dangerous is happening down there is if you check your poo regularly and then seeking medical help ASAP.
There are seven types of poo, according to the Bristol Stool Chart.
The chances are any changes in your toilet habits could be down to something like IBS, a food intolerance or conditions like Crohn’s disease, but they could also be down to bowel cancer.
Charlotte Dawson, head of support and information at Bowel Cancer UK previously told The Sun that a healthy poo “should be a medium brown, it should be soft but not liquid, it should be easy to expel so you aren’t straining and it shouldn’t have a lot of cracks and fissures as that indicates constipation”.
But it’s all about what’s normal for you so you need to be checking to make sure that you know what your typical pooing habits look like.
2. You’re using toilet paper
We all use toilet paper but apparently it’s not cleaning our bums as well as we all think it does.
It wipes off most of the poo but can leave some behind – which then only get wiped off when we have a shower or bath. Grim, right?
Rose George, author of The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters told Tonic: “Toilet paper moves sh*t but it doesn’t remove it.
“You wouldn’t shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?
“I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean.”
That’s why bidets are so good; if you ever find that you’re staying somewhere on holiday that has one in the bathroom, give it a go.
But what are you supposed to use here in the UK?
Well, you could use a wet wipe after first having a (light) go with toilet roll – but wet wipes are really environmentally unfriendly and can clog pipes.
You could get a bottle of water and give your bum a little rinse.
Or if you’re at home, you might just want to jump into the shower or keep a cup nearby.
3. You sit rather than squat
Did you know that in many countries, it’s not normal to sit on a toilet seat?
In the UK, most of us have been brought up to sit and push but scientists believe that we should actually be squatting – as much of the world already does.
Squatting opens up the colon which results in faster pooing with less effort.
It can reduce constipation and painful things like anal prolapse.
Scientists from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center got 52 medical patients and their partners to take a survey about their bowel movements and bathroom habits for two weeks.
Although everyone in the study was pretty healthy and young, the results showed that lots of them had a number of issues including straining, blood in their poo, and “incomplete emptying” – often associated with constipation.
The experts gave everyone a Squatty Potty (a special squatting device) and got everyone to track their bowel movements for another two weeks.
They found that 90 per cent of people who squatted strained less and 71 per cent had faster bowel movements.
The study found that the improvements were particularly pronounced for men and anyone who said that they had problems pooing at the start of the study.
The study’s co-author Dr Peter Stanich, assistant professor of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, said that the study’s findings confirmed the idea that squatting is best.
“This study shows that these simple devices may help symptoms like constipation, bloating and incomplete emptiness and can help people have more comfortable and effective bowel movements.”
4. You don’t poo at the same time every day
Pooing should be part of your daily routine.
If you’re eating enough fibre, you should be able to wake up, have a poo and get on with your day – getting rid of all the waste products from the day before.
If you don’t have a reliable poo routine, then that’s something you may need to work on.
By recognising that you tend to poo at certain times, you’re more able to track your bowel habits and notice any changes (like you’re pooing more or less frequently than usual)
5. You try not to poo at work
Pooing at work can be embarrassing and icky. Do you really want to put your bum cheeks on a communal pan? Isn’t everyone going to notice that you’ve left your desk for 15 minutes?
Well, holding in your poo is a lot worse than any kind of social anxiety pooing at work may prompt.
Nutritional therapist Jody Middleton told Metro.co.uk: ‘If you are someone who doesn’t like opening their bowels at work or school then this can lead to chronic constipation causing possible health concerns such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rectal polyps, haemorrhoids and even colon cancer.”
MORE ON BOWEL CANCER
Holding in poo of a long period of time can lead to something called “faecal impaction”.
That’s when your poo hardens and starts to layer. That can stop your muscles from working properly and in very severe cases, can lead to an impacted bowl – which can cause circulatory issues.
Moral of the story: when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
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