Stool Colors: What Do They Mean?

Stool Colors: What Do They Mean?

The color of stool can vary, although it most commonly falls in the brown color spectrum. Whether you know it or not, the foods you eat can affect the color of your stools, the rate of digestion, and the frequency of your bowel movements. Seldom will you look at your stool to find that the color indicates a potentially serious condition, but it can happen.

Note: While we are providing the possible explanations of stool colors in this article, you should consult your medical professional if you are concerned about the color of your stools.

The problem with most people is that they don’t take the time to look (or even glance) at their stools. Your poo can tell you a lot about your health, people! The color can indicate nutritional deficiencies and the consistency may inform you that a dietary intervention must be made.


Stool should not be difficult to pass; rather, it should be relatively soft and easy to eliminate. If you are struggling to pass stool and the stool that is passed is hard and dry, you are most likely constipated. You may need to cleanse the body if constipation lasts longer than two weeks. You can also visit your medical professional for advice. The reason you don’t want to let constipation go unaddressed is because the mucus and fluid from stool, which becomes lodged in the colon, can leak into the blood or organs. You do not want this to happen.

Watery or loose stools, on the other hand, indicate diarrhea. If diarrhea increases in frequency and is accompanied by fever or severe abdominal pain, you may need to contact your health care professional. For more information about what the color means, look at the chart below.

Stool QualityWhat It May MeanPossible Dietary Causes
GreenThis could be caused by food moving through the large intestine too quickly. In this situation, bile cannot break down food completely.If you have been eating a lot of green leafy vegetables, it is possible for you to experience green-colored stools. Iron supplements can also cause green stools.
Light-colored, white, or clay-coloredThis may indicate a bile deficiency in the stool, possibly caused by a bile duct obstruction.Medications and anti-diarrheal drugs can cause the stool to appear light-colored. Excess ingestion of bismuth subsalicylate is quite commonly the cause.
Yellow, greasy, & foul smellingToo much fat in the stool or a malabsorption disorder like Celiac Disease can result in these colored stools.You can sometimes attribute these colors to gluten or refined grains that are in processed foods, cereals, and breads. See a medical professional for evaluation.
BlackThis can indicate that there is bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, for example, in the stomach.Iron supplements, bismuth subsalicylate, or black licorice may cause stools to become black.
Bright redPossibly caused by bleeding in the lower digestive tract, for example, in the rectum. Hemorrhoids can also cause this color stool.Foods with red food coloring, cranberries, beets, tomato juice, or drink mixes can cause red stools.

There are other reasons that stools may have a color change. Eating a lot of carrots and sweet potatoes can result in a slightly orange stool, for instance. If you are ever worried about the color, consistency, or frequency of stools, contact your medical professional for help or advice.

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