You might not think that your trips to the bathroom can say much about your health, but you might want to think again when it’s time to go, as the color of your stool can reveal a lot about your health.
Due to its variety of shapes and shades, your poop is a window into the current status of your health. This is especially true for people with Crohn’s disease. “Some people never look at their stool, but most of my patients look at their stool pretty regularly,” said Neilanjan Nandi, MD, a gastroenterologist and an assistant professor in the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, who specializes in treating patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Researchers have also found that your feces can reveal plenty about your gut health and the bacteria inside of it, and how it can affect your mental and physical well-being. For instance, gut microbiome can play a role in mood disorders, according to a 2015 study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. These mysterious microbes could even play a part in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, as a recent study on mice has suggested. While its safe to assume you probably don’t have the required scientific tools to examine your stool’s bacterial composition handy, there is still a lot you can learn from its appearance.
Poop owes its well-known brown color to bile, a substance produced by the liver that aids in fat digestion, said Dr. Nandi. Although bile is naturally a green color, its pigments change color to yellow and brown as they travel through the digestive system and are broken down by enzymes. If you find your excrement is brown and solid, you have nothing to worry about, as it is normal.
Green poop is “very much in the realm of normal,” says Arun Swaminath, MD, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. If the color in the stool changes to green, it is most likely attributed to something you ate, mentions Nandi. When you eat lots of greens and leafy vegetables like spinach or kale, your feces will easily change to an emerald hue.