Has your poop recently turned green? Seeing green poop in your toilet bowl after a bowel movement can be a scary sight. But before you start worrying, you should know that there are quite a few reasons (some benign) that could cause your poop to turn green.
Indeed, normal stools vary greatly in appearance and color. In most cases, it is firm and brown. However, green poop can also indicate other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or intestinal infections. In this article, we’ll show you all the reasons why your poop might be green.
Why your poop is green?
Consumption of green foods
Green stools are usually the result of eating large amounts of green foods, such as leafy green vegetables or foods containing green dye. The green discoloration of the stool due to food can occur in both adults and children.
What to do: If green stools are linked to eating green foods, the best way to get them back to normal is to stop eating those foods for a while. The coloring will return to normal once the body has eliminated these culprit foods.
You have irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition characterized by inflammation of the intestinal villi which, in addition to abdominal pain, excessive gas production, and swelling, can lead to green stools.
What to do: The main focus of treatment for IBS is on changing eating habits. It is recommended that you follow an appropriate diet under the guidance of a nutritionist, as well as activities that help reduce stress and therefore prevent the progression of symptoms.
You have an intestinal infection
Intestinal infections, whether caused by bacteria such as salmonella or parasites such as Giardia lamblia, can cause green stools to form. This is because it is common in intestinal infections for intestinal transit to be faster, which reduces the time of exposure of the bile to intestinal bacteria and digestive enzymes, resulting in green diarrhea.
What to do: If you have a gut infection, your doctor may recommend that you take medicine depending on the organism that caused it, in addition to getting plenty of rest and drinking plenty of water.
Use of antibiotics
Some medications, mainly antibiotics, can affect the number of bacteria in the intestinal tract, which interferes with the biliary process. Bile is a greenish pigment that, when exposed to intestinal bacteria and digestive enzymes, acquires a brown color, which gives feces their characteristic color.
With the consumption of certain antibiotics, for example, the number of bacteria in the gut may be altered, causing the bile to continue to be greenish and lead to green stools. Besides antibiotics, other medicines, mainly those containing iron in their composition, can interfere with the biliary process and cause green stools.
What to do: After you have finished treatment with the suspecting drugs, it is important to observe whether the stools remain green. If this is the case, it is important to go to the doctor for a medical evaluation. Probiotics may then be prescribed to rebalance the intestinal flora. Learn more about probiotics here.
Meconium is a baby’s first stool, which is formed during pregnancy. Meconium has a thick, slimy, and greenish consistency because the baby’s gut microbiota is not yet fully developed, so it lacks the essential bacteria needed to act on the bile and make the stool darker.
No need to worry if you notice green poop from your newborn. It is normal for the baby to release these stools within 24 hours of birth, with gradual changes in stool color and consistency over the days, due to the maturation of the intestinal tract.
What the other colors mean?
Healthy stools are usually brown due to the presence of bile and bilirubin, a product that results from the breakdown of dead red cells in the intestines.
Yellow and foul smelling
Yellow stool is the result of fat malabsorption linked to pancreatic dysfunction due to insufficient pancreatic salts. This can be a sign of gluten intolerance or a more serious illness. See your doctor promptly.
If your poop is black, it is important to see your doctor as it may be a sign of internal bleeding due to a tumor or ulcer in the digestive tract, especially if the stool has a foul and tar-like smell.
There are, however, several benign causes of black stools, including ingestion of bismuth subsalicylate found for example in Pepto-Bismol (which can also make your tongue black), iron supplements, black licorice, blueberries or other dark foods.
Bright Yellow / Pale brown / Gray
Bright yellow diarrhea may signal the presence of a condition known as giardiasis. Yellow or pale stools can be a result of decreased bile salt production since normal brown stools get their color as the bile breaks down.
Pale stools (yellow or gray) can signal a problem with the liver or gallbladder, so you should see your doctor if they are frequent. If at the same time your urine also has a dark color, you should see your doctor asap.
Red or burgundy red
Bleeding in the lower part of the digestive tract can be the cause of bright red stools. Bleeding can result from inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, fissures, polyps, or colorectal cancer. The appearance of blood after a bowel movement is often linked to the existence of internal or external hemorrhoids which bleed after they have been evacuated.
Red stools, however, may also be the result of consuming large amounts of foods containing red dye such as cakes or packaged breakfast cereals, tomato-based sauces and soups, and beets.
If you consume excess beta carotene from supplements or from vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, certain leafy green vegetables, and certain herbs, your stool may appear orange.
Eating a large number of blue foods (e.g., blueberries) or drinks with blue dye (e.g., raisin soda) can cause your stools to appear blue.
It is perfectly possible to have silver stools. This is a worrying sign about the condition of your gut. When your feces are the color of an old, oxidized silver candlestick, it is urgent to see your doctor.
Poop is normally firm and brown. However, certain conditions can cause it to turn green. Eating a lot of green foods is usually the main culprit. But diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and an intestinal infection can also be cause. If you stool turns green for no apparent reason, please see your doctor for immediate analysis.