Poop comes in a variety of colors. The brownish or even greenish colors we associate with “normal” poop come from various amounts of bile (a greenish fluid that helps break down fat) in the glob of undigested food, water, bacteria, salts, and stuff. As poop makes it way down the digestive tract, enzymes change the bile pigments from green to brown. It’s hard to define a “normal” color because the exact shade differs from person to person and from day to day. Poop color is influenced by the food we eat, the amount of bile present, and under abnormal conditions, the presence of blood.
The colors we find in the toilet bowl often reflects our diet. Eat a ton of carrots, expect orangish output.
Poop color change can be worrisome if we can not connect the colors to any food or medication intake, and especially if it is associated with symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or pain.
The not-so-pooperific colors that merit a second look and possibly a call to the doctor include:
Red. Bright red pop can be a sign of bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract such as the colon, rectum, or anus.
Maroon to black. Non-food or medication-related blackening of stool can be a sign of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal bleed, such as the esophagus and stomach.
Gray. Light-colored, white or gray poop may be due to a lack of bile in the stool caused by a bile duct obstruction.
Consult your doctor if you’re concerned about your poop color. Seek prompt medical attention if you feel unwell and have bright red, maroon or black poop.