Ancient toilets & IBS

How much loo paper do YOU use? This is my article in today’s JEP (400 words):

Why do women go to the loo in twos or threes? Safety in numbers is one reason; there’s a social element too.

Earlier this month I visited the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Turkey – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and I was fascinated to hear that though the richer households had their own indoor toilets, these householders still paid money to use the communal latrines.

Why? It was to catch up on the gossip.

These toilets, side-by-side keyhole-shaped holes in marble benches set against the walls of the wooden-roofed room, meant one sat literally cheek to cheek.
In the colder months, slaves had to sit there first to warm up the marble.

Remarkably, the latrines had water running underneath to take away waste, and fresh water running in front to wash one’s hands; they were build in 1 AD – it was a long time before Europe introduced such measures.

In those days, there wasn’t loo paper. As in many societies, one wiped one’s bottom with the left hand, leaving the right hand free to shake when greeting others.

What’s this got to do with nutrition or emotional health?

Well, if your gut is in good working condition, your poos will come out nicely formed and leave little or no faecal matter to wipe away with paper, water or hand.

If you look up the Bristol Stool Scale, you’ll see numbers three and four put you nicely in this camp.

What, then, can cause you to use loads of loo paper when you poo, such as when someone suffers from the common malady Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)? (IBS is where a person can experience bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea and/or constipation on a regular basis.)

IBS can be affected by dietary sensitivities, leaky gut, gut dysbiosis and stress, and all these things are interlinked; the stress can be obvious or deep-rooted.

The NHS website most unhelpfully says that while you can alleviate its symptoms, you are stuck with IBS for life. I disagree – one can return to good gut health – but the first step is indeed to help bring symptoms under control.
A food and mood diary is a good start in helping you pinpoint triggers.

In addition, look up the FODMAP and Specific Carbohydrates Diets, take probiotics, avoid strong coffee and alcohol, and consider therapies such as RTT to help uncover underlying issues.

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