Most of us probably think stool color deviating from the usual brown is a sign of an illness or disease. Actually, it’s rare that stool color indicates any kind of intestinal condition that is cause for major concern. In fact, a healthy stool color can vary in shades of brown or green.
The Relationship between Food and Bile Production
The color of a person’s stool depends upon what he or she eats and the amount of bile combined with it in digestive system. The purpose of this yellow-green fluid is to help break down fats. The movement of the bile pigments through the gastrointestinal tract causes a chemical alteration, which then causes the pigments to change from green to brown. If your stool color is bright red or black, consult your physician promptly as this can indicate blood in the stool.
Changes in Stool Color
Any change in bowel habits (indicated by the color, texture, or consistency) should be brought to your doctor’s attention. It’s not unusual to experience occasional instances of diarrhea, constipation, or a strange color of the stool; but if it happens often, it may be due to a serious condition.
Sometimes, a certain food or medication causes these changes to occur but that isn’t always the case. Black or red stools can sometimes mean you have internal bleeding somewhere within the gastrointestinal tract.
Various Colors of Stool and What They Mean
Each of the following stool colors can result from the factors indicated below them:
- Acid in the blood
- Blood that originated higher up in the digestive tract
- Excessive iron
- Use of medications containing bismuth
- Over-consumption of black licorice (or other black foods)
- Eating excessive amounts of greens (such as spinach)
- Eating excessive amounts of blueberries
- Eating too many aspirin (this can burn ulcers in the stomach’s lining)
- Consumption of other dark foods (such as chocolate sandwich cookies)
- Blood in the stools (from internal injury)
- Blood from hemorrhoids
- Consumption of foods containing red dyes (gelatin, popsicles, or flavored drink mixes)
- Consumption of large amounts of tomato juice or soup
- Consumption of an excessive amount of beets
Pale or Clay-Colored Stools:
- Insufficient amount of bile salt
- Use of antacids containing aluminum hydroxide
- Presence of barium (possibly from a recent barium enema test)
- Excessive amounts of green, leafy vegetables
- Presence of green or purple food coloring
- Consumption of iron supplements
- Rapid change in transit time within the colon
- Some medications
- Consumption of foods that are high in beta carotene
Stool Colors of Concern
You should notify your physician if a change in stool color is not the result of something you ate or is accompanied by symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, weakness, or dizziness.
Stool color that is non-dietary or non-medicine related can be caused by a number of other conditions, some serious and some minor in nature. These conditions include:
- Pale or Gray Stool – resulting from insufficient bile output. This diminished yield may be stemming from the presence of Choecystitis, gallstones, giardia parasitic infection, hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, or cirrhosis of the liver.
- Yellow Stool – resulting from food passing through the digestive tract too quickly. People who have GERD (acid reflux disease) often produce yellow bowel movements. An insufficient amount of bile may also cause the problem. If the yellow stool color appears suddenly, a bacterial infection in the intestines may be the reason.
- Black Stool – indicating bleeding in the upper digestive tract or other conditions (duodenal or gastric ulcer, esophageal varices, a Mallory Weiss tear commonly associated with alcoholism, or gastritis). Black stool may also occur if you are chronically constipated due to the fermentation of toxic waste matter.
- Bright Red Stool – caused by hemorrhoids, anal fissures, Diverticulitis, colon cancer, and Ulcerative Colitis.
Methods for Avoiding Oddly Colored Stools
It’s important to realize when the color of your stool indicates something potentially serious so you can consult your health care provider as soon as possible. This caution is warranted any time an unusual health condition occurs sporadically but frequently, as it may indicate an underlying health issue.
If you are not certain if your bowel problem is a serious problem, discuss the matter with your doctor and let him or her advise you whether the problem is serious or just requires an improvement in your diet. In the case of a bacterial infection, medication may be needed to solve the problem. You can also try a product such as Oxy-Powder® to help cleanse your colon and remove unhealthy toxins and accumulated waste that may be causing these unusual stool colors.
Oxy-Powder® delivers an oxygenation action to gently liquefy accumulated organic debris so your colon can safely remove it. Once this toxic garbage is out of the way, your body can begin the process of healing. A healthy colon can thus process food more efficiently so any digestive anomalies (such as weird stool color) can be reduced in occurrence if not wholly eliminated. Makes sense right?