Green poop : What are the reasons and how can you correct it

green poop causes

Last Updated April 3rd, 2019

What is poop made of?

  • The poop is made up of 75 percent water and 25 percent solid matter.
  • The dead bacteria occupies about 30 percent of the solid matter.
  • 30 percent of the solid matter consists of indigestible food matter such as cellulose.
  • 10 to 20 percent of the solid matter is cholesterol and fats.
  • 10 to 20 percent of the solid matter comprises of inorganic
  • About 2 to 3 percent is protein.

Why does poop usually have a brown color?

Bilirubin is the final product obtained because of the breakdown of hemoglobin. The action of bacteria on bilirubin (bile pigments from the liver) gives rise to brown color to the poop. There are certain chemical compounds present in the feces which the bacteria acts on and this causes odor in your poop.

Why is my poop green in color? What does it mean?

There are other colors of poop (red, black, clay-colored, green, pale white and even yellow). Each of these colors could infer something. Many of these color changes do not signal a medical condition, but some of these can be a sign of something more serious.

Green color poop is usually considered normal as well. It also indicates the presence of bile salts that give the poop this color or maybe because you might have eaten a lot of green based foods or maybe you are passing your stools very fast. Eating a lot of high-chlorophyll plants, such as spinach or kale, taking a course of antibiotics, or a bacterial infection can result in a green colored poop.

Reasons for green poop

Think about what you ate

Any dietary food intake can influence the stool color and there is nothing wrong with consuming them. Here are some of the foods that can cause green stools:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • blueberries

Any such dark green vegetables and green color powder based contain high amounts of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a green color pigment present in plants that help in using sunlight for energy production.

You may get green colored poop if you are eating foods that involve the use of food colors(purple, blue, and black) such as candy, drink mixes, ice pops, ice cream, frosting, and gelatin. So if at all you do eat any fancy based foods which contain blue food color, and you may land up excreting green colored poop the next morning.

If you have a stomach upset

green poop causes stomachWhen blood cells become old, it is directed to the liver. In the liver, the old red blood cells will be broken down to give rise to a fluid called bile. This bile is a greenish yellow colored pigment that is stored in the gall bladder (an organ that lies beneath the liver).

The role of the bile is mainly linked to the digestive system. It processes the fat from the food and enables it to be absorbed into your body via the small intestine. After the bile’s role is over, it is considered as a waste product and will be excreted via the intestine.

In some cases such as stomach upset, diarrhea or stomach cramping, there will be some disablement in the body for breaking down bile. The bile might not have sufficient time to be broken down due to the stomach upset. Therefore, the poop might appear green in color because the inherent color of bile is greenish yellow too.

Antibiotics and certain medications

Antibiotics are those drug compounds that inhibit specific bacteria. These antibiotics are made to kill infectious bacteria but they kill many of the healthy bacteria as well. So, there will be a decline in the population of the brown-staining bacteria in your lower intestine. So it will appear to be green. You can treat this by consuming probiotics such as yogurt, etc.

The following are the drug categories that cause a green color poop:

  • Anti-inflammatory drug
  • Iron supplements
  • Contraceptive or birth control medicines

Some major surgeries

Bone marrow transplantation is a surgical procedure where they transfer the regenerating cells from the bone of one individual to a patient who is in need of blood cells. Here it can result in the patient’s body to reject the bone marrow cells as it is derived from another individual. The rejection will the digestive system too. So the patient may land up having diarrhea and green-colored poop.

Green poop might also be because of other microorganisms

green poop causes virusThe invasion of other microorganisms can cause the stool to be in green color. The invading microbes can disrupt the digestive system causing it to function improperly leading to diarrhea. This is mostly seen in cases of food poisoning.

Some serious gastrointestinal conditions

If there is an inflammation in the digestive system such as the Crohn’s disease or any other disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI)system, the bile will have insufficient time to be processed for excretion and may thus pass of via the intestines too quickly resulting in a green colored poop. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease leading to severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and anemia as well. A disease where there is an intolerance to gluten (Celiac disease) also results in gas, bloating, diarrhea and stomach pain. The un-processed waste (bile)results in excretion of green colored stools.

Anal fissures

Small tears that occur around the lining of the anus are called anal fissures. This will cause more pain especially if the stool is hard. Sometimes, these tears can also occur if you have chronic or severe prolonged inflammation in the digestive system leading to diarrhea. Anal fissures can result in green stools. There are chances that this can cause a bright red blood color in your stool as well.

Cancer and green poop are not linked

A black or tarry colored stool is one of the signs of cancer but a green colored stool does not mean an individual has cancer. Cancers of the GI tract result in bright red blood. Green poop might be due to the consumption of green leafy vegetables or green food colors.

At which stage should I consult a doctor?

If you have had diarrhea for more than three days, consult a doctor. Otherwise, it will lead to dehydration and poor nutritional status. If you have chronic green stool along with severe symptoms such as a stomach upset, blood present in the stool, or nausea, it is important to get yourself checked with the doctor. The doctor will examine the symptoms and the medications involved to find out the cause for the chronic green colored

Important symptoms of certain chronic diseases include:

  • Dark, tarry stools
  • Large amounts of blood passed from the rectum
  • Blood in the toilet bowl
  • Itchy anus
  • Swollen blood vessels in the rectum
  • Small tears in the skin of the anus
  • An urge to keep passing stools even when the bowel is empty
  • Development of a small channel between the end of the bowel and the skin of the anus
  • Any traces of blood in the stool

Here are some other symptoms linked with stool discoloration:

  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, or vomiting, especially if vomit contains blood as well.
  • Inflammation of the gut can lead to rectal bleeding.

Green poop: Infants and kids

This can be because of what you eat

If are consuming lots of green vegetables or foods with green food coloring such as sodas and sports drinks, it will change the color of both your breast milk and your baby’s poop.

Your baby might be ill

If your baby has a stomach upset caused due to some bacteria or viral infection, it can lead to diarrhea. This will influence the color and consistency of the baby’s poop. This can occur in formula-fed babies, too.

Your baby’s sensitive or allergic to something in your diet

This is usually very rare. It occurs if the baby is allergic to any substance you ate or any medication you are consuming, it can result in green or a slimy consistency in the stool. In such a case of an allergic reaction, apart from the green stool, there will be other symptoms such as tummy problems, skin, or breathing issues that will also occur. In fact, even older babies can give rise to a greenish poop especially when they are introduced to new foods.

Imbalance in the breast milk supply

green poop causes bileIf you forcefully stop feeding, or if you overly feed the baby, your baby may be getting more foremilk (thinner milk that comes at the beginning of a feeding) than hindmilk (creamier milk that comes toward the end of a feeding). If the baby is filled up on the foremilk due to a high milk production it results in the lactose not being properly balanced with fat. In such cases, the baby tends to digest it rapidly resulting in green, watery, or frothy poop.

Excess levels of lactose can result in and discomfort for your baby. This usually happens when you switch from one breast to the other before draining out the first breast completely. There is nothing to worry about this as far as the baby is happy, healthy, and gaining weight normally. You can solve this issue by allowing the baby to breastfeed on one side until the baby gets the higher fat milk.

It can also be the food given to the baby

As the baby gets bigger and begins eating solid foods, it can result in green poops.This occurs especially while introducing foods such as pureed beans, peas, and spinach.

Green poop and mucus

Sometimes, the baby’s poop might have slimy green streaks that give a shiny finish to the poop. This indicates the presence of mucus. This mostly happens when the baby is teething and drooling excessively. It can also be a sign of infection. If this mucus on the poop does not go away, and if it is also occurring along with other symptoms, it is better to seek help from a pediatrician.

Can green tea result in green stool color?

Green tea does not cause green colored poop. You can counter this fact with another fact that green tea leaf is green. Logically, preparing the green tea beverage requires a small amount of the tea and this amount is not even as impactful so as to cause green colored poop.

If you are drinking fresh or homemade green tea, there will be no changes in the color of your stool. If you are drinking pre-packaged bottles of green tea, it is important to check the ingredient label for food dyes or colorings. This is because the manufacturer might add some artificial colorings to the beverage to make it visually appealing thereby making it vibrantly green to catch the consumer’s eyes.

Green poop: What you should do

green poop causesGreen stools may not always be frightening. The ideal stool color is light to dark brown but some people who eat lots of greens will have green-colored poop too. In children and even adults, green poop can be caused by natural or artificial colors found in foods such as spinach, diarrhea, illness and because of iron supplements.

Bright red poop can be because of some potential bleeding in the lower intestines.  Sometimes, black poop can also occur if you consume blueberries or black licorice. If you have a certain medical condition related to the digestive system, you can eliminate all the triggers leading to green color stools such as avoiding gluten as it can cause diarrhea.

Maintain a food journal to help you identify your triggers. Green stool is no reason to fret or feel anxious. You should only worry unless the discoloration occurs for a prolonged time.

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