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What Does Your Poop Color Say About Your Digestive Health?

Posted by on May 19, 2016

Like your urine color, the color of your poop can vary and can also provide important clues as to whether various disease states are present. Your poop color is a good indicator of the health of your digestive system.

Poop comes in many colors including many shades of brown, green, or dark yellow. In general, these colors are normal and variations in these colors do not indicate that the individual is ill. Sometimes, dietary changes, like eating too much colored foods, or intake of certain substances like alcohol or medicines can affect the color of the stools as well. But it can also be a sign of serious disease and condition in the body. The following are various poop colors and what they mean.

Brown Poop

Brown is the normal color of poop. This color is due to a pigment called bilirubin that is formed when red blood cells in the liver and bone marrow break down. Bilirubin ends up in the intestines where bacteria turns the poop brown. Brown poop is normal and should not cause you any concern.

Green Poop

Green stool can be caused by a number of factors. It may indicate that food has passed through the intestines faster than normal before it could be changed from green to brown (called decreased bowel transit time). Diarrhea decreases bowel transit time, so any condition that causes diarrhea can result in green stool.

It could also be caused by eating a lot of leafy green vegetables like asparagus and broccoli, or taking excessive amounts of artificial food coloring. Other reasons could be antibiotic use or excess intake of iron supplement. In some case, green stool can be a sign of Crohn’s disease.

Bright Red Poop

Bright red stool is most worrisome as it indicates bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract like large intestine or rectum due to arteriovenous malformations, or more serious conditions like colon cancer. Red stool can also be caused by ingesting red food coloring or beets. if you experience large amounts of rectal bleeding, dizziness or faintness, seek your doctor immediately.

Black Poop

If your stool is black it usually means that there is dried blood in your stool. This may indicate that you have internal bleeding somewhere in the upper gastrointestinal tract or stomach but is far enough away from your rectum that it has time to dry. If this is a consistent color of your poop, seek your doctor right away.

Yellow Poop

Yellow stool can be a result of fat is not being absorbed from the poop. Fat absorption can be disrupted by various sources such as a parasite, illness causing inflammation in the pancreas or congenital disease.

Yellow poop can also occur from your diet. If your diet has recently been rich with carrots, sweet potatoes or yellow artificial food coloring then it could result in yellow stool as well.

Yellow poop is usually a sign of a medical problem that needs an attention. If yellow stool persists for several days, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms, you should contact your doctor.

If your babies experience yellow poop or lighter color poop, then it is normal as they are breastfeeding or drinking bottle milk.

White or Clay-Colored Poop

Stool that light colored (either white or clay-colored) may be caused by a lack of bile salts in stool. Bile salts secreted by the liver give stool its character brownish color. If there is decreased bile, stool is much lighter in color. Insufficient bile output or bile duct obstruction may be due to conditions such as cholecystitis, gallstones, hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, or cirrhosis.

Certain medications such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®, Kaopectate®) or antacids containing aluminum hydroxide may also result in light colored stool.

Even though you may feel inconvenience or embarrassed to talk about your bowel movements, it is important to contact your doctor if you suspect a problem. It is better for your doctor to determine if there is a problem early to avoid further damage or complications.