What Color Should My Poop Be?
What can the color of my poop tell me?
If you’re reading this article because your poop is glowing in the dark, call 911 immediately. Other than that, you can rest assured that poop does, will, and should come in different colors. Not much different than baking a cake or cookies, the ingredients you put into the poop recipe, and the process it goes through as your digestive system bakes the stool will affect the color.
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Before we go any further, if you’re ever concerned about what color your poop should be — as in you’re worried about the color it currently is — don’t ever be afraid to consult your doctor. This is especially important if your stool is bright red or black, since it could indicate the presence of blood.
The color of your poop is usually a result of two factors — what you eat (for example, a whole pot of red beets) and the amount of bile in the stool. Bile is a yellowish to greenish fluid that your body uses to help digest fat. The bile travels along with the stool through your digestive system and, when they come into contact with certain enzymes the colors typically change to brown.
You probably came here because of a specific color you noticed, so let’s run down the list of common poop colors and what they might mean.
Green poop could simply be the result of food running through your large intestine too quickly, as would be the case with diarrhea. Since it’s moving so quickly, the bile doesn’t have as much time to break down and react with the enzymes. Foods that could cause green stool include any leafy green vegetables (obviously in large amounts), iron supplements, and food with green food dye in them, like frozen lime-flavored treats, or drinks.
White / Pale Stool
Most of the time, albino poop means there’s no bile at all in it. Medically, this could be caused by a blocked bile duct. On the other hand, there are medications than can cause white or gray poop — including large doses of ones with bismuth subsalicylate. Brand names include Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismal. Anti-diarrheal drugs can be another temporary cause.
And you thought you were the only one who had to worry about getting fat. When poop has excess fat in it — usually caused by a malabsorption disorder — it can turn yellowish, look greasy, and have a worse than usual smell. Celiac disease is a common medical cause. The protein gluten, commonly found in bread and cereal can also be the culprit.
This can be a dangerous color. Black poop can be caused by bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. It’s black instead of red because it’s been in the digestive system longer, making it older and darker. Obviously, this is something that requires medical attention, so consult your doctor. Before you hit the panic button though, black stool can also be caused by iron supplements, eating lots of black licorice, or taking medications with bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismal or Kaopectate for example).
Bright Red Stool (or traces of red)
Once again, you’re probably dealing with blood in the stool. Unlike the black, red poop means bleeding later in the system — like in the large intestine or rectum. It could be a serious condition, especially with large amounts of blood, or something relatively benign like hemorrhoids or anal fissures. It never hurts to mention it to your doctor. Occasionally, red poop can be the result of something you ate. Beets are a common culprit, as are cranberries, tomato juice or soup. Also foods with red coloring in them can cause red stool.
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