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What Does the Color of Your Poop Tell You?

When it comes to poop, we often focus on its shape and consistency. However, the color of your poop can also reveal important information about your digestive health. The hue of your poop can vary, indicating different factors and potential health issues.

In this blog post, we will explore what the color of your poop tells you, the significance of different colors, and when to seek medical attention.

Normal Color of Your Poop

Before diving into the various colors and their implications, it’s essential to understand the range of normal stool colors. In general, a healthy poop color ranges from various shades of brown to a lighter tan or yellowish-brown. The specific color is influenced by the breakdown of bile pigments in the digestive process.

Chart with meaning of Color of Your Poop

Different Poop Colors and Their Meanings

Green Poop

If you notice green-colored poop, it may be due to the rapid transit of stool through your intestines. Bile pigments may not have enough time to break down, resulting in greenish hues. Additionally, consuming certain green-colored foods, iron supplements, or medications containing bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto-Bismol) can also cause green poop.

Black Poop

Black-colored poop, also known as melena, can be a cause for concern. It may indicate bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or upper small intestine. This type of bleeding could be associated with conditions like peptic ulcers, gastritis, or even gastrointestinal bleeding. If you notice black stools, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

Bright Red Poop

The presence of bright red blood in your stool can be alarming. It suggests bleeding in the lower digestive tract, such as the rectum or anus. This bleeding can be caused by conditions like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or even colorectal cancer. If you experience bright red blood in your stool, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional promptly.

Yellow Poop

A yellowish color in your poop can be a result of rapid transit time through the digestive tract. It can occur due to conditions like malabsorption disorders, celiac disease, or an excess of fat in the stool. If you consistently notice pale yellow or clay-colored stools, it is advisable to seek medical evaluation.

Other Colors

While variations in poop color can occur due to dietary factors, certain colors may indicate specific conditions. For example, a reddish hue after consuming beets or red foods is usually harmless. However, if you notice persistent changes in color that cannot be attributed to diet, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.

Stool Color Chart

As seen on Mayo Clinic, Stool Colors: What They Mean.


Stool Quality
What It May MeanPossible Dietary Causes
GreenFood may be moving through the large intestine too quickly, such as due to diarrhea. As a result, bile doesn’t have time to break down completely.Green leafy vegetables, green food coloring, such as in flavored drink mixes or ice pops, iron supplements.
Light-colored, white or clay-coloredA lack of bile in stool. This may indicate a bile duct obstruction.Certain medications, such as large doses of bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) and other anti-diarrheal drugs.
Yellow, greasy, foul-smellingExcess fat in the stool, such as due to a malabsorption disorder, for example, celiac disease.Sometimes the protein gluten, such as in breads and cereals. See a doctor for evaluation.
BlackBleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach.Iron supplements, bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol), black licorice.
Bright redBleeding in the lower intestinal tract, such as the large intestine or rectum, often from hemorrhoids.Red food coloring, beets, cranberries, tomato juice or soup, red gelatin or drink mixes.
Pulled from Mayo Clinic, Stool Colors: What They Mean.

When to Seek Medical Attention

It’s crucial to understand that individual experiences may vary, and the information provided here serves as general guidance. If you notice persistent changes in poop color, especially if accompanied by other concerning symptoms like abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, or unexplained weight loss, it is recommended to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis.

medical professional to discuss Color of Your Poop

Conclusion:

The color of your poop can offer valuable insights into your digestive health. While variations in color can be influenced by diet, certain colors may indicate underlying issues that require medical attention. By paying attention to the color of your poop and being aware of any changes or persistent abnormalities, you can take proactive steps in maintaining your digestive well-being.

Remember, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance regarding any concerns about your poop color or digestive health.

Want to learn more about this topic? Watch my FREE IBS Masterclass to learn more about what your poop can tell you about your body.

All the stool pictures featured on this website have been generously provided by participants in our IBS Dietitian programs. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to each and every client who has granted us permission to utilize their stool pictures, contributing to the development of this informative and educational platform. thank all of our clients for granting us permission to use their stool picture to create this educational website.

References:

American College of Gastroenterology. (2020). ACG Clinical Guideline: Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 115(2), 165-178. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000000501

American College of Gastroenterology. (2021). ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 116(1), 17-44. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001059

American Gastroenterological Association, Bharucha, A. E., Dorn, S. D., Lembo, A., Pressman, A., & American College of Gastroenterology. (2023). American Gastroenterological Association-American College of Gastroenterology Clinical Practice Guideline: Pharmacological Management of Chronic Idiopathic Constipation. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 118(5), 707-735. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001686

Mayo Clinic. (2022). Stool Colors: What They Mean. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/stool-color/expert-answers/faq-20058080

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017). Gas in the Digestive Tract. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/gas-digestive-tract

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