Digestive Health News Scientific Studies

Need help going to the toilet? Now there’s a manual!

Sitting on the toilet bad for you, you say? German microbiologist, Guilia Enders tells us how to go to the loo the right way in her best selling book, Charming Bowels (Darm mit Charme).

Giulia Enders - Gut - An inside storyCharming Bowels

Surfing the endless YouTube wave last week (Doing research of course…), we stumbled on a rather humorous Science Slam (Think of Dara O’Briain doing standup to a legion of comedians and swap the comedy for science) on microbiology.

It was all in German but at least someone had the decency to add subtitles to it.

Up on stage comes a 20-something, rather shy looking woman, whom, once given the opportunity to grab the mike, completely grabs the audiences attention by blurting out anecdotes about rectums, the color of poo and her two disgusted aunties.

This delivery continued for the next 5 minutes during her presentation, which went at a very energetic pace (Maybe she needed the toilet too?), with doodlesque depictions of the lower intestine, her aunties and both internal and external anus (Yes, you read that correctly!), going on behind her on a large screen for everyone to laugh at.

After somewhat being blown away by this presentation, we ran some searches on her and it turns out she is absolutely obsessed with bacteria, microbiology and, er….Poo!

Guilia Enders

Here is an exert from an interview with Guilia Enders by Philip Oltermann from The Guardian.

“She writes and talks about her subject matter with such child-like enthusiasm, it’s infectious. And, yes, we have been pooing all wrong. Enders tells me about various studies that show that we do it more efficiently if we squat. This is because the closure mechanism of the gut is not designed to “open the hatch completely” when we’re sitting down or standing up: it’s like a kinked hose. Squatting is far more natural and puts less pressure on our bottoms. She says: “1.2 billion people around the world who squat have almost no incidence of diverticulosis and fewer problems with piles. We in the west, on the other hand, squeeze our gut tissue until it comes out of our bottoms.” ”

She also delves into the subject of the gut, and how, as we know here at Bimuno HQ, there are more bacteria in our bodies than living cells and that it comprises of 2rd of our immune system. I would definitely encourage you to go out and read it, as there is an abundance of toilet humour (Excuse the pun), but she also outlines the importance of digestion and how the gut can effect not only our toilet routines, but moods, deliving deeper in to the brain/gut connection.

“There is an increasing interest in the gut microbiota and health and disease,” confirms Dr Ayesha Akbar, consultant gastroenterologist at St Mark’s hospital in London. “There is a huge number of gut bacteria which, in health, maintain a balance. However, an imbalance has been linked to many chronic disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and obesity. There is a suggestion that they may also be linked to psychiatric disorders and mood, with the majority of evidence coming from animal studies. Further research needs to be performed in humans in this area.”

Enders’ own interest in this link started when she was a new student. She met a man at a party whose breath was “the worst I have ever smelled – almost faecal”. The next day, he killed himself. “Could a diseased gut,” she wonders, “also have affected his psychological state?” She is keen, though, to point out that depressive disorders are multifactorial and not always connected to the gut; much more research is needed. The first human study of the effect of intestinal bacteria on the brain was only conducted only two years ago….

…As well as some serious issues, there are plenty of entertaining nuggets in the book. Did you know that our spit contains a painkiller more powerful than morphine: opiorphin? We have it only in minute quantities, so that we’re not off our heads all the time. Eating, though, releases more of the chemical and Enders wonders if this is one factor in comfort eating. And guess what? Your appendix – that bit of people always say is of no use – is actually made entirely of immune tissue and is a veritable larder of the best, most useful bacteria for the gut.””

Enders’ book is available online and in leading book stores and would make a very unique house-warming present for the perfect “toilet-reading” (There we go again!).