It's time to 💩 talk.

Karla Walsh
September 14, 2020
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From What's Your Poo Telling You to Poop Culture, dozens of books have been written in the 21st century all about one of the least dinner party-friendly topics ever: our bowels. That's likely because as science evolves, we're learning more and more about the way our gut health—and our poop—relates to our wellbeing.

While we've reported on how a healthy gut is linked to everything from less stress and anxiety to better heart health and a stronger immune system, we have yet to dive into the topic of when and how we poop here at EatingWell. Today is that day, friends, thanks to German doctor and author Giulia Enders, who gave a TED Talk all about how "our bowels are quite charming," in her opinion.

We discovered her TED Talk in the archives and were fascinated from start to finish, especially when Enders discussed a conversation she had with a pal about bathroom timing...and why it's so much easier to use the loo in your own abode. (By the way, in case you need it, we recently created and swear by this 3-day meal plan to help you poop.)

We have two sphincters that control our bowels, Enders says. The outer sphincter we can control; the inner one has more of a mind of its own. The inner one will open a little bit to "test" whether what's there is a gas or a solid.

"There are sensory cells that analyze what has been delivered," Enders explains, "and this is the moment when our brain knows, 'Oh, I have to go to the toilet.'"

The brain will check your current surroundings and decide if now is a good time to release what's hanging out in your bowels. The outer sphincter and the brain team up with the nervous cells to push that poo "back in line" to deal with later, say, when we're in the comfort of our own home bathroom.

Humans are one of the few animals that are so talented at controlling this process, Enders says. She also lets us all into the secret that she's personally much better at taking care of business in public restrooms now that she's aware of how this digestive process works. By tuning into when that inner sphincter "puts a suggestion on my daily agenda," she can take the hint better and step away if her body needs to use the restroom and help keep her insides "nice and tidy."

So now you know the double sphincter details, you too can pay more attention to your pre-poo body signals and decide if that suggestion should be an action item now or later.