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Returning to our ‘home toilet’ triggers our bowels 

Have you ever had some trouble going to the toilet when you’re in a public restroom or traveling, only being able to go comfortably when you return home?

If so, you’re not the only one.

Researchers suggests that this is a common occurrence caused by returning to home to a familiar environment, triggering the urge to go.

When someone returns home after a trip, certain sensory inputs such as a familiar painting or smell can make them feel more comfortable, triggering a relaxation response

In a report by The Atlantic, Nick Haslam, a professor of psychology at the University of Melbourne and author of Psychology in the bathroom, said that this is ‘a very familiar story.’

‘Most people feel more comfortable going to the bathroom in familiar – and private – surroundings.’

According to Haslam, this is the opposite effect of what some experience when they’re on holiday: traveler’s constipation.

People in this situation experience constipation, usually because they’re not comfortable pooping in unfamiliar environments or because they’re eating foods that change the composition of their gut microbiomes: the various bacterial communities living their guts.

However, eating a meal that doesn’t agree with the gut could also trigger diarrhea instead.

Indeed, a 2007 study found that among Mormon missionaries at the University of Utah who had just returned from travel, many had developed gastrointestinal symptoms during their travels.

Of those who developed symptoms during travel, 68 per cent had developed persistent diarrhea and 50 per cent had persistent constipation.

While the study does not explore why these conditions developed, it does conclude that these gastrointestinal problems are common among people traveling abroad.

Some people experience traveler's constipation. This can arise when people are not comfortable pooping in unfamiliar environments or because they're eating foods that change the composition of their gut microbiomes: the various bacterial communities living their guts

In contrast to traveler’s diarrhea, when someone returns home after a trip, certain sensory inputs such as a familiar painting or smell can make you feel more comfortable.

Jack Gilbert, a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and the university’s Microbiome Center director, told The Atlantic that when returning home, your adrenaline pumping changes, as well as how much energy you burn and how much fat you deposit, amongst other changes.

In addition, sleep patterns can change too, and all of these factors can influence the speed at which food moves through the gut.

So, one’s familiar home environment can help food move along the gut more normally, and it also ‘triggers the relaxation response that allows you to release the inhibitions that led you to hold it in’ while in unfamiliar surroundings,’ said Gilbert.

When someone returns home after a trip, certain sensory inputs such as a familiar painting or smell can make them feel more comfortable, triggering a relaxation response. This is the opposite effect of what some experience when they're on holiday: traveler's constipation

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