The topic of the color of your poop hardly comes up in a conversation due to which you hardly ever pay close attention to it. But when you do notice something different about it, you may start to panic. Poop is generally brown in color, but it can turn red, black, yellow, green, or any other color sometimes. Most of the time, you don’t have to worry about it much as it may not be a signal of any health issue, but sometimes, a weird poop color may indicate something a lot worse. If your poop is green in color, it helps to know the possible causes behind it so that you can make a call on whether you should take extra precautions and visit a doctor.
What Causes Poop To Turn Green?
Most plants contain a pigment called chlorophyll, which is green in color. High quality leafy green vegetables usually have a very high chlorophyll content. So if a major portion of your diet is made up of leafy greens, it may change the color of your poop to green too. Sometimes, green food coloring, like the ones used for artificial frosting, may also result in green poop. Though most of the time, the food you eat is the major contributor to your poop color, sometimes, there are some other serious factors that can be at play.
- Antibiotics: The healthy bacteria in your gut play a very important role in digestion and also influence the color of your poop. If you are on a course of antibiotics, it may result in the change in the type of bacteria present the gut. This may result in your poop to turn green.1
- Bilirubin: Bilirubin is a biological pigment that ends up in your intestines as a metabolic product. The bacteria in your gut break down bilirubin and turn it brown, which imparts the brown color to your poop. But if you are suffering from diarrhea, the food will end up moving too quickly through the intestine due to which the pigment will not break down sufficiently. This can cause your poop to appear green.2
- Pathogens: Certain pathogens like Giardia, norovirus, and Salmonella bacterium cause the food to pass through your gut faster than usual. This can impact the color of your stool.3
- Rejection Of Transplants: If your body rejects certain implants, it can result in graft versus host disease. And one of the consequences of this disease is diarrhea, which can cause your stool to appear green.4
The Possible Reasons Behind Different Stool Colors
Consuming foods like green vegetables, beets, and licorice contain strong pigments that can greatly impact the color of your stool. This is not a cause for concern at all as these pigments are completely harmless. But there are certain serious health issues which can cause your stool to appear anything but brown. Such health issues include celiac disease, gallbladder disease, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, piles, tumors, ulcerative colitis, tears in your anus lining, bleeding in your gut, and even cancers.
Though pinpointing the color of your stool to a precise health condition is quite difficult but some general characteristics can serve as a guide to help you figure out what exactly is wrong with your body.
- Reddish Stool: If you have not taken any cranberries, beets, tomato-based products, or foods that contain red coloring, the red color of your poop may be caused by bleeding in your lower digestive tract or your rectum.
- Black Or Dark Brown Stool: The color of your stool may be black or dark brown because of iron supplements or due to bleeding in your upper digestive tract.5
- Yellowish And Greasy Stool: Your stool can appear yellowish due to excess fat in your stool because of a disorder like celiac disease or because of an infection in your small intestine.
- White Or Clay-Colored Stool: Medications like bismuth subsalicylate, and other anti-diarrheal medication can cause the discoloration of your poop. A lack of bile in your body, possibly due to a blockage of the bile duct can also have a similar effect.6
When Should You Visit A Doctor?
If you sit back and analyze your diet and find that the abnormal color of your poop is not because of something you ate, you should get yourself looked at by your doctor, especially if your poop color has not been normal for an extended period of time. Describe the color, texture, and frequency of your poop in detail and also any other symptoms you may be experiencing to your doctor so that they have a better idea of your condition. Do let them know if you are on any medication as well so that they can diagnose and treat your condition more effectively.
|↑1||Young, Vincent B., and Thomas M. Schmidt. “Antibiotic-associated diarrhea accompanied by large-scale alterations in the composition of the fecal microbiota.” Journal of clinical microbiology 42, no. 3. 2004.|
|↑2, ↑6||Beckingham, I. J., and S. D. Ryder. “ABC of diseases of liver, pancreas, and biliary system: Investigation of liver and biliary disease.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 322, no. 7277. 2001.|
|↑3||Pawlowski, Sean W., Cirle Alcantara Warren, and Richard Guerrant. “Diagnosis and treatment of acute or persistent diarrhea.” Gastroenterology 136, no. 6. 2009.|
|↑4||McDonald, George B. “How I treat acute graft-versus-host disease of the gastrointestinal tract and the liver.” Blood 127, no. 12. 2016.|
|↑5||Iron -Deficiency Anemia. PubMed Health.|