Can a foot stool help you stay regular?

“The #1 way to #2,” proclaims the Squatty Potty website.

“Squatty Potty is the original toilet stool that positions your body in a natural, comfy squat,” says the company’s website. “This toilet posture helps you to be healthier and feel better—all while having the best poops of your life.”

When you sit on a standard toilet, your rectum has a bend in it. “Elevating your feet helps straighten that angle, which makes it easier to go,” says Jacqueline Wolf, a gastroenterologist and associate professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

That may especially help people avoid straining, which “can lead to hemorrhoids or anal tears,” says Wolf.

Long before the Squatty Potty made its way into millions of American bathrooms, “I told people to put their feet on a stack of telephone books,” says Wolf. “But who has telephone books anymore?”

That said, if you’re looking for robust evidence that a foot stool can help you have “the best poops of your life,” you won’t find it. The few studies that have looked were small, poorly designed, and enrolled people without irregularity.

“If you’re not struggling or straining, do you need it?” asks Wolf. “Probably not. But it may help you go faster, and people sure are in a hurry these days.”

A trial is currently testing the Squatty Potty in people who are irregular. In the meantime, a foot stool may be worth a try, says Wolf.

“It makes sense that it would help.”

The information in this post first appeared in the June 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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