Any unusual change to your poop color that is not related to a change in your diet or lifestyle should not be ignored, as it can affect your overall health and wellbeing. The award-winning gastro doctors at Manhattan Gastroenterology are experts in digestive health and know what regular bowel movements should be. They can help you understand what is going on with yours, what could affect your poop color and if it is a sign of some underlying health condition. Make an appointment today if you are having green-colored poops or experiencing any symptoms that are making you uncomfortable. You can look forward to getting some answers to what may be happening and learn about best treatment options to enjoy a healthy gut.

Most of us know what our normal bowel movement looks like and what to expect if something is not well. However, green poop is something that most of us are not familiar with, and it can raise an alarm, especially when you do not have an idea of what may be causing it.

Knowing what is going on with your digestive tract and when to get things checked can help you keep an eye on your gut health. Read on to know some of the reasons why your poop is green.

Factors That Affect Poop Color

Why is my poop green?
Why is my poop green?

Our poop is made up of what we eat. It may not come as a surprise to see green-colored poop if you have been eating green foods. Healthcare experts believe that the color and shape of bowel movements can vary day by day for everyone. It is always changing, and noticing a splash of green is not something to freak about if you can identify the reasons behind it. Kale and spinach are the two vegetables known to affect the color of your poop more than others, and eating a lot of these two vegetables can certainly disturb your normal poop color.

Stools are generally brown, but you may also notice many other colors in your poop. It can be anything from black tarry stool produced by gastritis to white chalky poop if you have a blockage of your bile duct. The stool may turn bright red due to something as harmless as food coloring or as critical as bleeding in the digestive tract. Several medical conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can lead to yellow poop.

From drugs and supplements to bacterial and viral infections several factors can tell a lot about your bowel movement. There is a long list of disorders and conditions of the GI tract that can bring a change in the stool color or texture, and some of them are serious and need medical help. If you have been noticing an unexpected change in your poop color that lasts longer than a few bowel movements, talk to your doctor before it turns serious.

Some of the conditions that may affect the color of your poop include:

  • Celiac disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Tears in the lining of the anus
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Tumors
  • Some types of cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticular disease

What Turns My Poop Green?

Stool color is generally influenced by what you eat, as well as by the amount of bile, a yellow-green fluid that digests fats, in your stool. The most common cause of green poop is eating a diet high in rich green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, blueberries, and spinach. Dark green vegetables and green powder supplements contain chlorophyll, the chemical that allows plants to make energy from the sun.

However, in some cases, it is not the food that is making your poop change its color. The use of certain foods that contain dyes and coloring can also change the shade of your poop as they do not get processed properly, leaving behind a colorful residue in your stool.

Other reasons why your poop is turning green include:

Artificial foods – Artificial drink mixes and frozen desserts contain green food coloring that can alter the color of your poop, especially if you consume them in large quantities.

Iron supplements – Iron deficiency is often linked to other gastrointestinal conditions. A high intake of iron may alter the color of your poop.

Parasites, viruses, and bacteria – The presence of parasitic, viral, and bacterial invaders may also be the reason behind your green poop. Your body already contains billions of bacteria that serve a vital purpose, but the invasion of outside agents can wreak all sorts of havoc on your intestinal output and cause a lot of discomfort too. Bacteria like Salmonella, the water parasite giardia, and norovirus can make your guts flush quicker than normal, which can result in green-tinged stools.

Bile pigment – Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. This fluid is green-yellow. When it combines with the foods you eat, the bile helps the body break down fats. If the body cannot break down the bile, it passes through the intestine directly into the stool and makes it appear green.

Diarrhea – If you are experiencing diarrhea, it means the food is not staying in your system as long as it normally does to facilitate proper digestion. In such a case, bile from the gallbladder can still be seen in your poop, giving it a green color.

Special diets – If you are taking some special diets for colon cleanse, you may have green stools. It is because a colon cleanse causes the foods to rush through the intestines. A high-fat diet like keto may also give your poop a bright green color as the body makes more bile to digest these fats, and your poop may come out with more green bile.

Medications – Strong antibiotics can decrease the population of the brown-staining bacteria in the lower intestine and kill large parts of your gut’s normal bacteria, which may result in green stools. Many other medications can also cause a breakdown in pigments that turn the stool green.

In most cases, green poop is not a serious matter, especially when you have diarrhea or just switched to a plant diet that includes lots of green vegetables. If you notice a change in your stool color that only lasts for a few bowel movements, it is not serious. If your stool remains green for a few days or a week and you cannot pinpoint the exact causes, it is time to call your doctor. Green-colored poop can signal a bacterial infection that may require medical treatment to resolve.

Does Green Poop Indicate Cancer?

The colors of poop are often associated with tumors or cancer, but the green color is generally not among them. The color of your poop can tell you a lot about what is going on in your body, but it is only a part of it. A change in the poop color is not a problem in itself that needs a trip to the hospital.

There are many other symptoms accompanying it that need attention as they tell the inside story. If you are noting large quantities of blood in your stool or experiencing nausea, intense abdominal pain, unexplained fatigue, severe bloating, and vomiting, call your doctor as soon as possible, no matter what the color of your poop is. The doctor will only be able to determine the presence of cancer or tumor by running several tests as only poop color is not sufficient to make a diagnosis.

When to Seek Medical Help?

You should seek medical help if you notice a persistent change in your bowel movement, the color of your poop or experience pain while passing it. It may be embarrassing to talk to your doctor about such a matter, but digestive problems should not be taken lightly unless you know what may be causing them.

No matter what color your poop is, any sudden change that is not related to a gastrointestinal problem or your eating habits should be checked out by a medical practitioner. Do not ignore diarrhea that lasts for more than three weeks, as long-term or untreated diarrhea can lead to dehydration and poor nutritional status, causing further trouble. If your chronic green stool is accompanied by more severe symptoms, such as stomach upset, traces of blood, or nausea, call your doctor.

If you are diagnosed with a medical condition, preventing green poops starts with addressing the underlying problem. The doctor may advise you to avoid foods like gluten that trigger diarrhea if you have celiac disease.

Occasional green stools do not warrant a visit to the emergency room. They may be an outcome of what you are eating or even some gastrointestinal issue that may go away on its own. Schedule an appointment with experienced and board-certified gastroenterologists at Manhattan Gastroenterology to discuss why you might be getting green poops and what could be done to prevent them. The top-rated gastro doctors review your medication list, diet, and other medical conditions to understand your gut better and determine potential causes of your green stools. They are experts at diagnosing and treating digestive disorders and come up with the best solutions to help you get back to normal bowel movements again.

Updated on Sep 1, 2023 by Dr. Shawn Khodadadian (Gastroenterologist) of Manhattan Gastroenterology