What affects the color of your poop?

Expert Answers

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The color of one's stool is affected by his/her diet and the amount of bile produced in his/her intestinal tract. Bile is a fluid that contains enzymes that aid the digestion of lipids (fats). It is yellow to green in color. As bile moves down the digestive tract, it turns from yellow to green to brown. Stool color may also be affected by the types of medications taken by an individual. Below are possible stool colors, what they might mean, and their causes.

1.      Green

Green stools may indicate diarrhea. The bile is moving so quickly through the digestive system that it does not have time to turn brown. Green stools may also result from eating an abundance of leafy vegetables or consuming artificial food dyes.  

2.      Light grey or white

Such a stool color may indicate that there is not enough bile being produced. Antidiarrheal medications may inhibit bile production and result in such a stool color.

3.      Black

Black stool may indicate that the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract is bleeding. Iron supplements have also been known to cause black stools.

4.      Yellow

Such stool color is a result of excess fat in one’s diet. Fat in the stool can also be a result of the inability to absorb the fat. This may be a result of a medical condition of the GI tract, such as celiac disease.

5.      Bright red

This color is an indication that the lower GI tract is bleeding, which may be a result of hemorrhoids. Red stool color may also be a result of ingesting beets, red food dye, or tomato-based beverages or broths.

 

The colors of concern that may warrant immediate medical attention are bright red or black stools.

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