Why is My Poop Green?


A woman taking a roll of tissue

Discovering that your poop has turned green can be startling, but did you know that this color stool is considered quite normal?

In most cases, green stool is caused by dietary changes and using certain medications.

However, it can also be a symptom of an underlying health issue, so you should know what to look out for and when to see a doctor.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of green stool, explore various treatment options, and highlight warning signs to watch for to ensure proper care of your digestive health.

Understanding Stool Color

Stool color can vary from person to person, depending on factors like diet, medication use, and lifestyle habits.

The color may also be influenced by the efficiency of the digestive process, nutrient absorption, and how long it takes for food to pass through the intestines.

A quicker digestive system can mean less bile is absorbed, which can lead to a greener-looking stool. If the stool only has a slight green tint, it’s typically considered normal.

However, a more solid green color may be cause for concern. We’ll go into more detail about this later.

Common Causes of Green Poop

Dietary factors

The most common cause of green stool is consuming foods that are green or purple.

For example, leafy greens — like spinach, kale, and broccoli — are rich in chlorophyll, the pigment that gives plants their color.

Consuming lots of these vegetables can turn your stool green.

Another aspect that can contribute to a tinted stool is the green food coloring found in some drinks and candies.

Other dietary factors that can cause green colored poop include:

  • Colon cleanses: This practice involves flushing the colon to remove toxins and waste. Because this can cause food to move through the digestive system more quickly, the stomach bile doesn’t have enough time to break down and absorb nutrients. This can give poop a green tint.

  • Following a keto diet: The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that can affect your stool. This is largely due to the significant increase in fat, which can alter bile production and cause stool color to change. The reduced intake of carbs may also cause an imbalance in the gut microbiome, leading to changes in the color of your poop.

In most cases, the green color from dietary sources is harmless and will resolve once the food has been fully digested or you’ve resumed eating a balanced diet.

Quicker digestion

If you have a faster metabolism, it can speed up the digestion process and contribute to green stools.

This is because food that moves quickly through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract typically has less time to absorb and break down bile completely.

Bile is naturally green, so when it’s not fully digested, it can also tint the stool.

Although quicker digestion can be due to a faster metabolism, it can also be caused by diarrhea, dietary changes, or increased stress levels.

It’s important to keep an eye on any accompanying symptoms to ensure you get proper treatment, if necessary.

Medications and supplements

Using certain medications can affect the GI tract and cause stool to turn green.

A common supplement that contributes to green stool is iron supplements. When consumed in excess, iron can affect bile and cause poop to turn green.

Other medications — like antibiotics — can also cause green stool by altering the balance of bacteria in the gut. This can affect the digestive process and influence stool color.

Health-related causes

Various underlying conditions can have a significant impact on the digestive system and stool color. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal infections: Viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections can disrupt the normal balance of the gut, leading to changes in stool color. Some infections — like norovirus, salmonella, and giardiasis — are known to increase the frequency of bowel movements, which may result in green stool.

  • Inflammatory conditions: Conditions such as Crohn's, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis affect the lining in the upper digestive tract, which can lead to green stool. These inflammatory conditions often cause other symptoms, including abdominal pain, cramping, and blood in the stool.

  • Bile duct issues: Problems with the bile duct — such as blockages or diseases — can prevent the bile from being properly processed and absorbed. Conditions affecting the bile ducts often require medical attention, so it’s important to consult your doctor if you suspect an issue.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you may observe changes in your stool caused by the transformation your body undergoes.

Pregnancy can contribute to green stool in the following ways:

  • Dietary changes, such as increased cravings or aversions to certain foods

  • Prenatal vitamins that contain high levels of iron

  • Increased hormone levels, which can affect the digestive system and bile production

  • Gastrointestinal changes

It’s important to speak to your doctor about any gastrointestinal concerns you may have during your pregnancy to ensure you get the proper prenatal care.

Not all medications and treatment options are safe for use during pregnancy, and your doctor will be able to recommend the most appropriate methods to alleviate any discomfort.

How is the Cause of Green Stool Diagnosed?

Your doctor will use a combination of physical examination and diagnostic tests to help diagnose the cause of your green stool.

This helps them to determine whether the green stool is a temporary condition or a symptom related to a more serious health issue.

You can typically expect the following during your appointment:

  • Medical history review: Your doctor will typically inquire about your diet, medical history, supplements, and any additional symptoms you might be experiencing.

  • Physical examination: After reviewing your medical history, your doctor will check for any signs of abdominal discomfort, bloating, or tenderness that may indicate an underlying condition.

Depending on the findings from these reviews, your doctor may order additional tests for a more accurate diagnosis. These may include:

  • Blood tests

  • Stool tests

  • Imaging tests, such as ultrasounds or X-rays

  • Endoscopy

Once your doctor receives the results of these tests, they can provide you with a diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Can Green Stool Be Treated?

Dietary adjustments

When green stool stems from dietary sources, simple adjustments can usually restore its normal color. These changes may include:

  • Reducing your intake of green foods and artificial colors: If your green stool is due to a high consumption of leafy greens or foods with artificial coloring, cutting back on these foods can help.

  • Monitoring iron supplements: If you take iron supplements and notice green stool, consult a healthcare provider about adjusting your dosage. They may also recommend alternative types of iron supplements.

  • Balance your diet: Ensure that your diet includes a healthy balance of fibers, proteins, and fats to support normal digestion and absorption processes. A balanced diet helps regulate how quickly food moves through your digestive tract and may help reduce the likelihood of green stool.

Managing underlying conditions

If your green stool is caused by underlying conditions, managing those issues is essential.

Underlying conditions and treatments may include:

  • Infections: GI infections causing green stool are usually treated with antibiotics or antiparasitics, depending on the organisms responsible for the infection. In less severe cases, supportive care can also aid recovery.

  • Inflammatory conditions: Some conditions — like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis — may require a combination of medication, dietary adjustments, and sometimes surgery to manage symptoms, including abnormal stool color.

  • Bile duct issues: Treatment for faulty bile ducts may include medications to dissolve obstructions like gallstones, procedures to remove blockages or surgery.

When Should You See a Doctor About Green Stool?

While green stool can be normal for some people, there are certain times when consulting your doctor is advised.

These may include:

  • Persistent green stool without changes in diet or medication use

  • Experiencing accompanying symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea

  • Finding blood in your stool

  • Developing jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss

  • Having a fever

You should also see your doctor if you have known digestive disorders and experience changes in your stool, as these could indicate that the issue has become more severe.

Consulting your doctor about any changes in your bowel habits can help ensure that you get the proper treatment and avoid further complications.

Where Can You Learn More About Maintaining Healthy Bowel Habits?

If you’re concerned about your stool color or want to know more about healthy bowel movements, LifeMD can help.

A team of medical professionals can assist you with information and provide guidance on maintaining bowel health and avoiding complications.

Make an appointment with LifeMD today to learn more about bowel care — all from the comfort of your home.

Tenae Griffin, NP

Tenae has worked in healthcare for over 16 years and has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2018. Her diverse experience and expertise in various healthcare settings enables her to provide comprehensive care to patients with a wide range of health needs. Tenae values building strong relationships with her patients and is dedicated to providing high-quality, patient-centered care.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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