Why Some Doctors Think We Should Do Away With Toilet Paper Altogether

iStock/kazoka30
iStock/kazoka30

Americans are famously resistant to bidets. Though the rest of the world enjoys cleansing their nether regions with water on a regular basis, for some reason, even the fanciest bathrooms in the U.S. lack these sanitary fixtures. And yet, no matter how hesitant you are to wash your butt, there’s a compelling reason to ditch your toilet paper and embrace the bidet. Doctors say it’s better for your butt’s health, according to Vice’s Tonic.

There are several ways a quick squirt of water is better for your undercarriage than repeated swipes with a handful of toilet paper. (Especially if you buy single-ply. Please, don’t buy single-ply.) That's because wiping can be traumatic for your butt.

The first is hemorrhoids. Gastroenterologist Partha Nandi tells Tonic that TP can be irritating, and if you’re prone to hemorrhoids, you’re not doing yourself any favors by scraping your butt with harsh, dry wads of paper. A gentle stream of water could clean you up more thoroughly, without doing harm to your delicate tush. Some research suggests that using a bidet might also help with butt conditions like anal fissures and itchiness. It can reduce anorectal pressure, which one study suggest may in turn help mitigate some kinds of constipation. Just make sure the water pressure isn’t too intense, which can cause its own set of problems.

For women, bidets may also help prevent uncomfortable urinary tract infections, which are generally caused by bacteria from the vagina making their way up the urethra. Doctors say bidets potentially wash away these bacteria before they can cause infection, reducing your chances of getting a UTI. A 2005 study found that in nursing home settings, bidet use reduced the bacterial content of urine. That said, at least one study in Japan found that warm-water bidets can change the vaginal microflora, leading to bacterial vaginitis, so the results are a bit mixed.

But you don’t have to have a butt-health issue to adopt the bidet life. Perhaps you just enjoy the feeling of having a squeaky-clean rear end, or are plagued with the thought that your toilet paper isn’t getting rid of all the fecal bacteria you’ve got down there. If so, bidet away! Soon, some international airlines may even have them, so you can cleanse off at altitude.

Convinced? Read about our trial run with Tushy, a bidet attachment that you can install on any toilet.

[h/t Tonic]

Alcohol-Producing Gut Bacteria May Harm Livers—Even if You Don't Drink

itakdalee/iStock via Getty Images
itakdalee/iStock via Getty Images

Teetotalers might think their liver is safe from the damaging effects of alcohol consumption, but new research is hinting that even non-drinkers and light drinkers might have cause for concern. It turns out a type of gut bacteria is capable of producing alcohol—and enough of it to potentially cause some pretty serious health consequences, including liver disease.

A study led by Jing Yuan at the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in Beijing, China and published in the journal Cell Metabolism offers details. After evaluating a patient with auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), a rare condition brought on by consumption and fermentation of sugary foods that leaves a person with high blood alcohol levels, researchers made an intriguing discovery. Rather than finding fermenting yeast that may have led to the condition, the patient’s stool contained Klebsiella pneumonia, a common gut bacteria capable of producing alcohol. In this subject, K. pneumonia was producing significantly more alcohol than in healthy patients.

The patient also had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), characterized by fatty deposits in the liver. While many cases of NAFLD are relatively benign, too much fat can become toxic. Examining 43 other subjects with NAFLD, scientists found that that K. pneumonia was both present and potent, pumping out more alcohol than normal in 60 percent of participants with NAFLD. In the control group, a surplus was found in only 6.25 percent.

To further observe a correlation, scientists fed the bacteria to healthy, germ-free mice, who began to see an increase in fat in their livers after only one month. While not conclusive proof that the bacteria prompts NAFLD, it will likely trigger additional research in humans.

It’s not yet known how K. pneumonia acts in concert with the bacterial profile of the gut or what might make someone carrying stronger strains of the bacteria. Luckily, K. pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics. That’s good news for people who might never touch a drink and still find themselves with a damaged liver.

[h/t Live Science]

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

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