Reasons Your Poop is Green: What Does Healthy, Normal, and Abnormal Mean?

Published September 16th, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Healthy Poop | Green Poop | What to do with green poop | Should I Visit the DR? | Treatment Options

Poop is a natural part of life, but the color can sometimes be alarming. What does a healthy poop look like? What causes green poop? Why is my poop not brown? When should I worry about my stool being greenish in color? Should I see a doctor if my poop is green and what's normal and abnormal when it comes to poop colors and consistency? In this article, we will answer these questions to help inform you of what is and is not healthy-looking stool. 

What does healthy poop look like?

A good place to start will be what a healthy poop, also called stool, looks like in an adult. The key things to look for are a healthy stool that is well-formed and usually medium brown in color. The stools should be soft, but not runny or watery, as this could indicate diarrhea. They should pass easily without causing any pain or discomfort, so if you have been struggling with constipation your poop may come out looking much different. 

Healthy stools are not usually green, black, or red. Healthy stools are usually dark brown, but can also be tan, yellow-brown, light brownish-gray, or pale tan. Green is a color that indicates there might have been some bile in the feces which would suggest an increased fat content in your diet and/or possible presence of a gastrointestinal infection. Although green stool can be the sign of unhealthy poop, that is not always the case and there are legitimate reasons it can be green while still living a healthy lifestyle that we will examine further. 

What are the causes of my green poop?

In adults, common causes of green poop include: consuming large quantities of dietary supplements or herbal remedies containing green food coloring, eating a lot of foods that contain chlorophyll such as kale, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables, taking medications that can change the color of your stool (although this is usually temporary), ingesting massive amounts of bismuth subsalicylate which is an ingredient found in Pepto Bismol, and taking large doses of medications that can irritate the lining of your intestines or affect how quickly food moves through it. If you have recently been exposed to a poison, ingesting massive amounts of alcohol, or doing an intense amount of exercise have all been known to cause green poop. 

If you are recovering from a gastrointestinal infection (GI), your green poop may persist for several days after the symptoms of your illness have ended and this is also normal. It can take up to six months or more until stools return to their usual color, so try not to worry about it taking that long. In some cases, if the GI infection is caused by a parasite, you may continue to have green stools for up to six months after the symptoms of your illness.

In babies, green poop is usually a sign of feeding problems or intolerance to milk-based formulas. Other common causes of green poop include: swallowing large amounts of the mother's amniotic fluid during delivery, consuming bile which can be released into a newborn baby's intestine as their digestive system begins working after birth, and being exposed to high levels of bilirubin, which is a breakdown product of blood.

Can I change the color of my green poop?

The easiest way to change the color of your feces is if you know a certain food or medicine is causing discoloration, then you stop eating, drinking, or ingesting it. Only stop taking medications though if it has been approved by your healthcare provider. 

When should I worry about the color of my poop?

The above list of common causes is not meant to be all-inclusive, but it will give you an idea of what your healthy bowel movements should look like and when there might be something wrong. If any other colors are present in stools such as red, black, or tarry stools, you should seek immediate medical attention.

If your green poop is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, cramping, or nausea that lasts for more than a few hours, this could be an indication of food poisoning which requires medical treatment right away to save your life. If it has been several days since the onset of these symptoms and they are not improving then you should seek medical attention.

Should I see a doctor about my green poop?

You should see a doctor if you have green poop and it is accompanied by other symptoms that could indicate anything from simple dietary changes to more concerning conditions. If your green poop has been lasting for several days, check in with your health care provider who can help determine what might be causing the problem. If you are concerned about your poop color and want to try out some dietary changes before consulting with your doctor, make sure to use caution as this can lead to unhealthy dietary habits if not done correctly. Make small adjustments to your diet over a period of time.

What treatment options are there for my green poop?

If your stool turns out green and there are no other concerning signs such as pain or blood, then it's probably nothing serious and just an indication that something in your diet is causing this change. There are several things you can do to avoid green stool:

  • Eat more leafy greens like broccoli, kale, and spinach which provide magnesium that helps with the formation of bowel movements. Be sure not to overindulge which can lead to green poop.
  • Reduce intake of high fructose foods or drinks since they might be linked to diarrhea.
  • Increase water consumption so your stool is softer and less likely to stick around in your bowels for too long.
  • Increase intake of natural probiotics such as yogurt with live cultures or supplements.
  • Avoid antibiotics when possible since they can cause diarrhea which could turn your stool green.

Do not stop taking medications without consulting a doctor first because this could lead to serious medical complications.

Dietary changes may resolve green stool by increasing fat intake while reducing carbohydrate consumption; however, this will depend on an individual's specific circumstances (e.g., age). Medication can be used to change the pH balance of stools to a more basic state that is easier for the body to absorb and remove from the intestines. 

Probiotics can naturally occur in foods like yogurt or you can also take supplements to introduce them to your gut. In addition, some people may benefit from increasing their intake of vitamin C or taking a probiotic supplement to improve digestion and nutrient absorption. 

It's important to check with your doctor before beginning any treatment plan so you know it's safe for your specific situation. The doctor will run tests to figure out what exactly is causing this before beginning any treatment plan so you know it's safe for your specific condition. 

They may also recommend seeing a nutritionist if there are dietary changes that can be made.

Summary 

Green stool is both naturally occurring but it can also be a cause for concern. In this article, we provide advice on what healthy bowel movements should look like and the causes of green poop. We also cover when a person might need to see a doctor about their green stool, what treatment options there are for it, and dietary changes that can be made. Please consult your healthcare provider should you have further questions or concerns about your green stool.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic – Stool color: When to worry

Cleveland Clinic – Why is Your Poop Green?

Put drug prices & coupons in your pocket!

We'll text you a link to download our free Android or iPhone app