Why is My Poop Yellow?


Toilet

Experiencing yellow poop is usually nothing to worry about, but it can be an important indicator of your digestive and overall health.

While most cases of yellow stool are caused by dietary or lifestyle factors, more serious digestive disorders may also result in this change.

It's essential to recognize the causes and warning signs to know when to see a doctor.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about yellow stool, including how to treat and prevent it to help you take care of your digestive health.

How Does Poop Get its Color?

The color of your stool is primarily influenced by digestive processes, especially how the body absorbs and digests food.

Stool generally gets its typical brown color from absorbing bile — a fluid produced by the liver that is essential for breaking down food and helping the body absorb nutrients.

As the bile travels through the intestines, it undergoes chemical changes and interacts with gut bacteria. This changes green poop to brown, influencing the color of your stool.

The rate at which food and bile move through the digestive tract also affects stool color.

Slow-moving food may darken stool, while faster transit can result in lighter shades.

Common Causes of Yellow Poop

Dietary factors

Consuming foods high in fat — such as takeout or certain cuts of red meat — can contribute to yellow stools.

When you eat excess fat, the body cannot absorb it, and it ends up in your stool.

Other dietary factors that can cause yellow poop include eating foods with a bright orange or yellow color — such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and turmeric.

These foods contain a high concentration of beta-carotene, a type of nutrient that gives it a yellow-orange pigment.

Consuming too much beta-carotene can turn your stool yellow as it passes through your system.

Digestive disorders

Certain digestive disorders — like Crohn’s or celiac disease — can interfere with the absorption of fats and other nutrients.

This can cause an imbalance of these substances in the digestive tract, which may contribute to yellow stool.

These conditions can also damage your gut lining, causing inflammation which hinders the digestive process and affects stool color.

Symptoms of digestive disorders can differ depending on the condition’s severity, but most people experience:

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Bloating

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain or swelling

  • Headaches

Gallbladder issues

The gallbladder stores bile, the substance that helps the body digest food.

Issues that affect the gallbladder — such as gallstones or cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) — can disrupt bile flow and affect digestion.

Without adequate bile, fats are also poorly absorbed, which can contribute to yellow stool.

Liver conditions

The liver produces bile, which helps digest fats. Liver conditions, like hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer, can affect bile production, altering food digestion.

When your digestion is affected, it can lead to changes in stool color. Issues with bile production can also lead to excess fats in the digestive tract, causing yellow stool.

Pancreatic issues

Similar to bile, the pancreas produces enzymes that help the body digest nutrients like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Any health condition affecting the pancreas — such as pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, or pancreatic cancer — can reduce this enzyme production.

When this happens, it can lead to stools that appear yellow and greasy due to excess fats in the digestive tract.

Infections

Gastrointestinal infections caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites can cause food to move through the digestive tract more quickly.

This reduces the time bile has to break down and absorb nutrients, resulting in yellow stool.

Infections can also damage the intestinal lining, which may affect nutrient absorption and contribute to changes in bowel habits.

Medication use

Certain medications — such as antibiotics, antacids, and drugs used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — can cause changes in stool color.

For example, some medications can increase fat in the stool, leading to a yellow color.

You should consult your healthcare provider if you suspect that your medication is affecting the color of your poop. They can adjust your dosage or recommend alternative treatments.

Other health conditions

Other health conditions impacting metabolism and digestion can also change stool color.

These conditions include:

It’s important to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns that underlying health conditions may be causing your yellow stool.

They can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan to help you manage these conditions and improve your quality of life.

What are the Treatment Options for Yellow Stool?

Follow a balanced diet

Most cases of yellow stool can be treated with simple dietary changes. This means following a diet that limits high-fat foods and is rich in nutrient-dense options, such as:

  • Whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Lean proteins, like eggs, chicken breast, and salmon

Regularly consuming these foods can help normalize stool color and improve overall digestive health.

If your yellow stool is caused by excess beta-carotene, limiting your intake of orange or yellow foods or swapping them with alternatives can help.

Make healthy lifestyle changes

Lifestyle factors can play a significant role in digestive health and bowel habits. Incorporating the following into your routine can normalize your stool color:

  • Increasing your physical activity

  • Staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids throughout the day

  • Practicing stress management techniques

These changes can improve your digestive health, which can help to reduce and prevent various stool abnormalities.

Key Point: How Much Exercise Should You Get to Improve Digestive Health?

Regular exercise enhances gut motility, promoting consistent and healthy bowel movements and a strong digestive system.

It’s recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day or around 150 minutes per week. You can increase your physical activity by doing things like:

Going for walks Jogging Yoga or pilates Strength training Swimming Cycling

Manage underlying medical conditions

If yellow stool stems from a medical condition, proper treatment and management are essential.

This may include:

  • Gallbladder issues: Treatment will depend on the root cause of the issue and could involve medication or surgery to treat gallstones or remove the gallbladder itself.

  • Liver conditions: Depending on the specific liver issue, treatment may range from lifestyle changes and medication to more advanced interventions like liver transplants.

  • Pancreatic issues: Treatment options may include lifestyle modifications, enzyme supplements to aid digestion, and, in some cases, surgery or other procedures to remove blockages and damaged tissue.

  • Infections: Gastrointestinal infections might require antibiotics or antiparasitic medications and supportive care for symptom management.

  • Medication use: If certain medications contribute to yellow stool, a doctor might adjust the dosage or switch to an alternative medication.

What Happens if You Leave Yellow Stool Untreated?

Depending on the cause of your yellow stool, leaving it untreated may result in additional complications. These may include:

  • Dehydration

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Weight loss

  • Growth problems in children

  • Worsening gallbladder issues

  • Liver failure

  • Increased risk of infections

  • Diabetes

  • Chronic pancreatitis

  • Cancer

Yellow stool related to dietary factors often resolves on its own once your eating habits become more balanced.

When Should You Be Concerned About Yellow Poop?

While occasional changes in your stool color and bowel habits can be normal, persistent yellow poop may indicate a more serious condition.

You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Persistent changes in stool color without dietary adjustments or medication use

  • Bright yellow diarrhea

  • Accompanying symptoms such as abdominal pain, jaundice, or nausea

  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss

  • Dark urine

  • Light-colored or pale stool

  • Black stool

  • Itchy skin

These symptoms can be a sign of an underlying medical condition — like gallbladder or digestive and kidney diseases — that may require professional treatment.

Where Can You Learn More About Digestive Health?

If you’re concerned about your stool color or want to know more about your digestive health, LifeMD is here to help.

A team of medical professionals can assist you with information and provide guidance on maintaining a healthy digestive system and avoiding complications.

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

Joslin Ruiz, APRN, FNP-C

Joslin began her healthcare journey as an ER nurse, where she fine-tuned her expertise in both pediatric and adult care over the years. She’s spent years in family practice and telemedicine, finding immense joy and fulfillment in her work.

Talk To A Doctor

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective. Come discover a healthcare solution built around you and your life.

Connect with a doctor now!

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.

Feel better with LifeMD.

Your doctor is online and ready to see you.

Join LifeMD today and experience amazing healthcare, discounted labs and prescription medications... plus around-the-clock access to medical guidance.