Green, discolored poop may be caused by the food you eat, taking certain medications, or some medical conditions. In some cases, green poop may require medical treatment.

It can be alarming to notice discolored stool. But there are a variety of reasons this could be the case, and not all of them are dangerous

After looking in the bowl, think back on what you’ve been putting in your mouth lately. You’ll most likely find the answer in what you’ve been eating. But there are also some other causes of colorful stools:

  • an underlying medical condition
  • antibiotics
  • a bacterial infection

This article covers the causes and implications of green-colored stool.

The usual brown color of excrement is due to a leftover mix of dead red blood cells and waste from the bacteria in your bowels. The bile in your intestines is usually a yellowish-green color, but bacteria add the rest of the hue. Besides making your poop brown, bacteria perform vitally important functions, like helping you to absorb nutrients from your meals.

Feces can be a different color when food doesn’t spend enough time in your digestive tract. This can happen if you have diarrhea. In that case, the contents of your intestines rush through the process too quickly to allow healthy bacteria to give your poo its characteristic hue.

The most common reason for green stool is a dietary habit or change. Food that can cause green stools include:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • broccoli

Dark green vegetables and green powder supplements contain chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to make energy from the sun. Eating a lot of them can turn your poop green, but that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong. Keep eating those greens!

Blue or purple food and drinks may also cause green-tinted stool discoloration. This applies to items with both natural and artificial colorings, including:

  • blueberries
  • red cabbage
  • grape-flavored sodas
  • purple or blue ice pops
  • purple or blue icing

The coloring from dyes can pass through the digestive system without absorption, leaving a colorful residue in your stool. Digestive processes can change the nature of dyes, meaning that purple, blue, and black dyes can lead to green poop upon passing.

Bile is a fluid made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. This fluid naturally has a green-yellow color. When bile combines with foods you eat, the bile helps your body break down more fat from the diet. This allows more fat to be absorbed into your body in the small intestine.

However, your body must break down bile to excrete it as waste. Normally, this is accomplished by traveling a pathway through your intestine. Sometimes when you have diarrhea or other digestive issues, bile can’t be broken down as quickly. The result can be poop that appears green in tint because of the natural green color of bile salts in your body.

If you’ve recently been prescribed antibiotics, especially a strong one, the medication can kill off large parts of your gut’s normal bacteria. This decreases the population of the brown-staining bacteria in your lower intestine. Probiotics, such as yogurt or kombucha, can help restore balance to your intestinal flora.

Several other medications and supplements can also cause a breakdown in pigments that turns your stool green. One example is iron supplements.

Parasitic, viral, and bacterial invaders can also be causing your green stool. Yes, your body already contains billions of bacteria that serve a vital purpose. Outsiders, however, can wreak havoc on your intestinal output.

Bacteria like Salmonella, the water parasite giardia, and norovirus can cause your guts to flush quicker than normal, leading to green-tinged stools.

If you have Crohn’s disease or another GI condition, bile may move through your intestines too quickly, causing green poop. Crohn’s disease is a bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract.

Celiac disease, which is gluten intolerance, causes various GI problems, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain. If you have diarrhea or loose stools with celiac disease, you may also have green stools.

Other possible causes of green stools include irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and overuse of laxatives since these issues can cause rapid bile movement through the intestines.

Cholecystectomy is surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Following gallbladder removal, there’s no reservoir for bile made in the liver. When released into the bowels, it may cause bile acid diarrhea, irritate the anal canal, and cause green or yellow frothy stools.

Don’t panic or imagine the worst if you have green stools. Different-colored stools can indeed be a sign of a cancerous tumor. But with cancer, stools are often a black or tarry color. This typically indicates bleeding from somewhere in the upper GI tract. Additionally, sometimes bright red blood occurs in lower GI tact cancers.

Although green stools aren’t usually a cause for concern or a sign of cancer, you shouldn’t ignore green poop accompanied by other symptoms.

If you have other symptoms, such as recurring diarrhea or vomiting that doesn’t improve, this can indicate another serious medical condition. Talk with your doctor ASAP.v

If you’ve experienced diarrhea for more than 3 days, seek medical care. Long-term, untreated diarrhea can lead to dehydration and poor nutritional status.

If your chronic green stool is accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as stomach upset, blood present in the stool, or nausea, these symptoms also warrant a doctor’s visit.

While the nature of the visit may be awkward to discuss, a doctor can review your medication list, diet, and other medical conditions to determine potential causes of chronically green stool.

Does green poop mean your liver is going bad?

Green poop doesn’t necessarily indicate a bad liver; it’s often due to bile passing through the digestive system too quickly.

Does green poop mean infection?

Green poop can result from infections, like gastroenteritis, which can speed up the digestive process.

What color stool can indicate liver damage?

Liver damage can cause pale or clay-colored stool due to a lack of bilirubin reaching the intestines.

When should you be concerned about green poop?

Concern about green poop is warranted if it persists for more than a few days or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms like abdominal pain or fever.

If you experience green stool as a one-off symptom, it’s highly unlikely to be cause for concern.

However, seeing other colors in your stool may indicate an issue. Bright red signifies potential bleeding in the lower intestines. A black or dark tarry brown could indicate bleeding in your upper GI tract. But remember, it could also be the blueberries or black licorice you had at lunch.

If you’re diagnosed with a medical condition, preventing green poop starts with addressing the underlying problem. For example, avoid foods like gluten that trigger diarrhea if you have celiac disease.

In most cases, occasional green stools are nothing to worry about. Long-lasting bouts of discolored stool may signal something more serious, but a one-time occurrence usually just means you’re eating your vegetables.

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