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Tushy

Why You Should Definitely Get a Bidet

Tushy
Tushy

Other cultures may love the bidet, but Americans have long been loath to give their butts a good wash after pooping. But, if we’re going to get down and dirty about it, bidets can vastly improve your bathroom life—and for a relatively low price, too.

Mental_floss took a test run with a toilet-mounted bidet from Tushy, a company of "toilet crusaders" founded in 2014 that sells non-electric bidet attachments. Tushy's models come in warm or cool and start at $69; we tested the cold-water-only device because hooking hot water up to the attachment requires open access from your toilet to the pipes under your sink. Our verdict? Once you get used to it, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Who doesn’t want a little cold spray to wake up in the morning?

As promised, the installation was relatively simple. Even with no previous knowledge of where toilet water even came from, this first-time plumber was able to install the splitter that allows you to channel water to both your toilet tank and the bidet (without mixing the two). The bidet comes with Teflon plumber’s tape, which is used to seal the joints where the parts connect. (Full disclosure: For a hot second during installation it seemed like no amount of tape would stop the water from spraying out of the connection between the hoses, but eventually the magic sealing tape worked and the water stopped leaking onto the bathroom floor.) A month later, the amateur plumbing job has held, so the easy-installation claim gets a thumbs-up.

The addition of that adjustable spray of water to a bathroom routine is, quite honestly, eye-opening. So fresh! So clean! Without getting too gross, it’s the difference between cleaning off your muddy rain boots with a hose or wiping them with a paper towel. For ladies, it’s a more pleasant way to get through the mess of a period, and if you’re spending a lot of time sitting on the pot, using water is a great way to avoid unwanted toilet paper chafe. Since you'll be using less toilet paper, using a bidet also saves you money (especially if you rent your home and your landlord pays your water bill).

At first blush it might seem like the extra water a bidet uses with each flush would be wasteful, but compared to the manufacturing of toilet paper, a bidet is gentler on the environment. According to one estimate, it takes 37 gallons of water to create a single roll of toilet paper, and Tushy reports that Americans use 57 sheets of toilet paper every day. Compare that to the 1.3 gallons of water a week it takes for the typical user to splash themselves with the bidet, and the winner is clear.

Lest you leave the restroom dripping wet, a little bit of toilet paper is necessary to dry yourself after using the bidet. But if you are really looking to be eco-friendly, Tushy sells towels to replace your toilet paper. For someone who has used toilet paper for decades, the prospect of wiping your bum with a reusable towel (especially one that’s 100 percent bamboo fiber and soft enough to become your favorite face cloth) is horrifying. How is this sanitary?

In search of answers, mental_floss reached out to the company’s PR team. According to Tushy’s Elliot Friar, many people who have “mastered using Tushy” only wash their towels every few days. If you clean yourself thoroughly with the bidet, the only thing standing between you and truly green washroom habits is your own adherence to cultural bathroom norms. “They're definitely something new and go against the booty belief systems we've created as a culture for hundreds of years,” Friar says.

In short: If you love your butt, get the bidet. A Japanese toilet that heats up and plays music may be overkill, but you can find bidet attachments on Amazon for as low as $20. Tushy’s bidets are more stylish than your average attachment, and the price reflects that. Either way, your bum and Mother Nature will thank you.

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Department Of Classics, University Of Cincinnati
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Ancient Poop Contains First Evidence of Parasites Described by Hippocrates
Department Of Classics, University Of Cincinnati
Department Of Classics, University Of Cincinnati

The long-held mystery of Hippocrates and the parasitic worms has finally been solved, and it’s all thanks to a few samples of ancient poop.

Researchers don’t know much about the parasites that plagued the Greeks thousands of years ago, and what they do know is largely from the Hippocratic Corpus, the medical texts that the father of medicine and his students put together between the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. Modern historians have spent years trying to figure out which diseases and parasites Hippocrates and his followers were referring to in their writing, relying solely on their descriptions to guess at what ailments the ancient Greeks might have suffered from. Now, they finally have concrete evidence of the existence of some of the intestinal worms Hippocrates mentioned, Helmins strongyle and Ascaris.

As part of a study in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, an international group of researchers analyzed the ancient remains of feces in 25 prehistoric burials on the Greek island of Kea to determine what parasites the people were carrying when they died. Using microscopes, they looked at the soil (formed by the decomposed poop) found on the pelvic bones of skeletons dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze, and Roman periods.

A roundworm egg under the microscope
A roundworm egg
Elsevier

Around 16 percent of the burials they studied contained evidence of parasites. In these ancient fecal samples, they found the eggs of two different parasitic species. In the soil taken from the skeletons dating back to the Neolithic period, they found whipworm eggs, and in the soil taken from the Bronze Age skeletons, roundworm.

With this information, researchers deduced that what Hippocrates called the Helmins strongyle worm was probably what modern doctors would call roundworm. The Ascaris worm probably referred to two different parasites, they conclude, known today as pinworm (which was not found in this analysis) and whipworm (pictured below).

Whipworm under a microscope
A whipworm egg
Elsevier

Though historians already hypothesized that Hippocrates's patients on Kea had roundworm, the Ascaris finding comes as a particular surprise. Previous research based solely on Hippocrates’s writing rather than physical evidence suggested that what he called Ascaris was probably a pinworm, and another worm he mentioned, Helmins plateia, was probably a tapeworm. But the current research didn’t turn up any evidence of either of those two worms. Instead of pinworm eggs, the researchers found whipworm, another worm that’s similarly small and round. (Pinworms may very well have existed in ancient Greece, the researchers caution, since evidence of their fragile eggs could easily have been lost to time.) The soil analysis has already changed what we know about the intestinal woes of the ancient Greeks of Kea.

More importantly, this study provides the earliest evidence of ancient Greece’s parasitic worm population, proving yet again that ancient poop is one of the world’s most important scientific resources.

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iStock
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Food
How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie
iStock
iStock

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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