What the colour of your poop is telling you

Having occasional stools that aren't the usual brown might seem like something to worry about. Sometimes, it could just be your diet that's giving your poop a funky colour.

Before you start panicking, scroll on to learn about different-coloured poop, and when there's a cause for concern.

Yellow Poop

Got greasy and foul-smelling yellow poop? It's a bad sign. Having yellow poop suggests that there might be too much fat in your diet and your body is unable to digest the food completely.

Another possible reason could be that you're suffering from celiac disease. Celiac disease occurs when the body has problems digesting gluten, a protein that is found in grains such as wheat and barley. The undigested gluten results in yellow, greasy poop. If you're passing yellow stools often, seek a doctor's advice.

Green Poop

Don't freak out if your poop is an ogre green. Consuming dark, leafy veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli might give you green poop. When you take more veggies than your body needs, not everything gets digested. Undigested veggies that still contain chlorophyll will make your poop green.

If you've been taking antibiotics, that could be the reason for your green stools. As antibiotics destroy some of your gut bacteria, there's insufficient good bacteria in the bile to turn your waste into the traditional brown. If this happens, eat more foods that contain good bacteria, such as yogurt and kombucha.


Black Poop

If you have been taking iron supplements recently, that probably explains your dark stools. Nothing to worry about - in fact, it's a sign that the iron tablets are working.

However, if you haven't changed your diet recently and you've been getting black, tarry stools, it could be a sign of internal bleeding in your digestive tract. When there's internal bleeding, your red blood cells are broken down during the digestion process, turning the stools black when they're passed out.

If you think that diet changes aren't the cause of your black stools, seek medical advice.

Red Poop

Before you get alarmed, recall what you'd eaten the day before that could cause your stools to be an unusual red. Certain foods like red dragon fruit or foods with red colouring could result in you passing out red poop.

But if you're having bouts of red diarrhoea, you might have an intestinal infection called Escherichia coli (E coli). E coli is a type of bacteria that enters your guts when you consume spoiled or contaminated food such as undercooked meat. Drinking unpasteurised milk could also result in an infection. The symptoms of this infection typically takes a few days to appear.

If those bouts of diarrhoea don't go away after a few days, and you experience symptoms like dizziness, severe stomach pains or fever, see a doctor immediately.

White Poop

Certain medicines that you take when you have diarrhoea can make your stools look like clay. However, if you haven't been taking any medication lately, having white stools could mean serious, underlying problems.

It's a sign that your body is not producing enough bile, the fluid that helps to digest your food and make your poop a familiar-looking brown.

A possible cause for the absence of bile is liver disease, when your damaged liver is unable to produce sufficient bile for digestion. Another possibility would be gallstones, which cause a blockage in the ducts and prevent the bile from being released. Certain gallstones might require surgical removal, depending on the seriousness of the condition.

If you continue to pass out white or light-coloured stools for more than two days, seek medical advice.

Also read: 7 things the colour of your pee can tell you

This article was first published in Shape