I’d like to apologize for the graphic nature of this article— but I’m willing to risk sounding impolite, because this information could save your life.
Ask yourself if this sounds familiar:
You’re having a little trouble ‘going,’ so you hold your breath and bear down hard.
Sometimes it only lasts a second, and you barely notice you’re doing it.
And sometimes, it lasts longer, like when we’re constipated — you may even feel out of breath when you’re done pushing.
Your ears might even pop, or come close… just like when you plug your nose and “blow” on a plane to relieve ear pressure.
But it works, right? And it’s such a relief when that crippling stomach ache goes away!
Well, here’s the problem:
This is medically known as the Valsalva Maneuver… and it’s so dangerous, many experts believe it’s what actually killed Elvis.1
You see, the Valsalva Maneuver causes a your heart rate to suddenly drop, then SPIKE as your body overcorrects the problem.2
And that spells serious trouble if you’re at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
In fact, Harvard researchers recently found that, over the course of a 13-year study, participants with the least frequent bowel movements, had the highest risk of dying of cardiovascular disease or stroke…3
Likely due to the Valsalva Maneuver.
“There’s no question that constipation that requires straining can put the cardiovascular system at risk by raising blood pressure,” says Dr. A.M. Hutter, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Cardiac Performance Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
So, how can you avoid using this dangerous “bathroom technique”?
The truth is, a normal bowel movement should take very little effort.
And luckily, there are a few very easy things you can do to make your bathroom habits a little more “effortless”:
1) Load up on “wet” fiber
You probably already know that getting fiber from natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and legumes is key to keeping everything “moving.”
But remember: fiber is hard, so if it goes through your systemdry, it will just clog the pipes!
That’s why you need to “flush” it through with plenty of water. I actually recommend that my patients drink twice as much water as usual with high-fiber meals.
(By the way, DON’T be fooled by “Fiber Added” foods like granola bars, cereals, or pastas. Those tend to be over-processed and filled with added sugars — which could actually make your digestive problems worse.)
2) Let out your “inner child”
Even if yoga isn’t your thing, this one simple pose could completely change your restroom habits, in just a few minutes a day.
It’s called Child’s Pose, and here’s how it’s done:
First, kneel down on the floor, sitting back on your heels. Then, bend forward until your head touches the floor, with your chest pressed against your knees. Stretch your arms out in front of you and breathe deeply.
This pose is designed to help stimulate your bowels and help make trips to the bathroom a little easier. Hold it for 2-3 minutes each morning, or anytime you feel like things are beginning to “move,” to help everything go smoothly.
3) Practice your “bearing down” breath.
You actually use the Valsalva Maneuver naturally during lots of activities, not just while you’re moving your bowels. This also happens during strenuous activities like shoveling snow, lifting heavy objects, or even engaging in sexual activity…
Which may explain why those activities can cause heart attacks for some people as well.
Try to practice EXHALING upon exertion instead of holding your breath. You can do this by doing simple squats every day — even just one set — and making sure you exhale on the wayup. Over time, this could help you use the Valsalva Maneuver less and less.
And of course, as a Probiotic America customer, you know how important it is to continue using a potent probiotic daily to keep your bathroom habits regular and easy.
In fact, if you’re a fan of Perfect Biotics, there’s one easy way to make it even MORE powerful… something I designed myself toenhance its digestive benefits with the extra strains your gut needs.
It’s called Perfect Biotics+... and if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you check it out. (Click here to learn more about Perfect Biotics+)
Because it turns out, comfortable bathroom habits aren’t just a matter of comfort… your life could actually depend on it!
For your health,
Dr. Cary Nelson, MD
Director of Science & Nutrition
1 Frank Coffey, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Elvis (1997), p.247.
2Porth CJ, Bamrah VS, Tristani FE, Smith JJ. The Valsalva maneuver: mechanisms and clinical implications. Heart Lung. September 1984:18-507.
3Honkura K, Tomata Y, Sugiyama K, et al. Defecation frequency and cardiovascular disease mortality in Japan: The Ohsaki cohort study. Atherosclerosis. 2016;246:251-256. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.01.007.