Every Stool Color Says Something – Decipher the Color Code

Even in the age of smartphones and digitalisation, answering the calls of nature does not need any such medium or technology. It happens naturally. Every morning, we all look forward to it. And in fact, the ‘no show’ thing gives us a lot of discomforts. Isn’t it? So, today we will learn about ‘stool’ or ‘poop’ or ‘number 2′ or whatever you are comfortable to call it and what its different stool colors mean and say about your health. Although it is not at all a dinner-table topic, most of us, do talk about it in a hush-hush way, if not openly. However, it is very important to know about this everyday chore because it is the mirror of your overall health. So, let’s get started to learn what’s normal and what’s not.

What is Stool?

It is the remnant of the food you eat that remains undigested in the small intestine. The undigested food is further broken down by the bacteria present in the large intestine. The main constituents of your stool are – microbially-changed bilirubin, proteins and dead cells from your gut lining.

Stool Color- When To Worry?

Although it sounds hilarious to ask, what is the color of your stool?  Is it the normal color – yellowish brown or is it white or red or black or green or something else? Yes, just like the size, shape, and consistency of your faeces, its color also says a lot about your health. So, what gives or decides your stool color? Well, it depends on the stool-maker and what he or she eats. Jokes apart, but the color of your poop mainly depends on what you make your tummy feed with.

According to gastroenterologists, every one of us should check the color of our poop pretty regularly. Although you may not have some exact parameters or scientific equipment to find out the microbial or bacterial composition of your stool, a change in its appearance can be indicative of any particular health condition. So, let’s try to decipher the color codes hidden in your poop –

1. Brown-colored stool

Normally, the color of your stool is brown. It depends on what you have consumed and the amount of bile present in the stool. Bile is a green to dark brown-colored fluid produced by the liver for digestion of fats. As the bile juice travels down through your alimentary canal, its color gets altered due to chemical changes it goes through down the track due to enzymatic actions. So, if your nature’s call is solid/semi-solid and brown, there is no reason to worry about.

2. Green-colored stool

The emerald tinge of your stool is also pretty much normal. If spinach is your energy booster like that of ‘Popeye, the sailor man’s’ your poop will impart a green color. It’s not a joke at all. If you eat too much of chlorophyll-rich green vegetables like kale and spinach, your stool’s color would be green. Also, when your food moves too quickly, bile juices don’t get enough time to change color from green to brown. It also makes your poop look green. So, a green colored stool is also not that concerning.

3. Yellow-colored stool

A yellow colored poop is also considered to be normal, especially in the case of breastfeeding babies. However, if the color of your stool shows up to be yellow, plus it smells bad and appears to be greasy, it indicates excessive fat that your body is not able to digest. Also, there can be other reasons too wherein the color is yellow, and it smells very bad. And, if it happens quite often, you need to see a doctor.

4. White or pale stool

If you are on medication for diarrhoea that contains bismuth subsalicylate as the main ingredient, then white or pale stool is very normal. So is in the case of barium. It is a pale-colored and chalky liquid that is administered as a preparatory medication before undertaking X-Ray of your upper abdomen or alimentary canal. Another reason behind white-colored stool is the deficiency of bile in the same. Don’t forget! It’s bile that renders brown color to your poop. So, if you excrete white or pale stool, it means that your stool is not getting enough bile. It could be a serious indicator that you should not take for granted. Liver conditions like jaundice, hepatitis, blockage in the bile duct caused by a tumour, gallstones etc. can also restrict the passage of bile to the small intestine. Also, one can get white stools as a result of a rare health condition called biliary atresia. It is a childhood disease.

5. Black-colored stool

Just like when you eat green, you excrete green, when you eat black, you excrete black. Yes, you read it right. Having iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol medicines, liquorice, blueberry etc., can make your poop black. You would be surprised to learn that, even if you have too much of Oreo biscuits, then the next morning you can expect black-colored stool. However, if your black poop is semi-solid or liquid with a tarry consistency followed by a bad smell, it may be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, tumour and even cancer.

6. Reddish or bright red-colored stool –

If you found your stool to be red, please don’t panic. Rather, try to recall what you ate last night. Yes, red or scarlet colored food like beetroot, tomato soup, and red-colored beverages can also be the reason behind the same. However, if you have not eaten any of the above-mentioned items, then the red color can be blood. Unfortunately, if the color is bright red, it is more likely to be coming from the lower part of your alimentary canal. Some of the main reasons behind gastrointestinal bleeding are – colitis (inflammation of the colon), haemorrhoids, diverticular disease, colon polyps, tumours, and cancer. In such a situation, you should not delay seeing your doctor.

So, now that you are aware of the varied shades of your stool, the possible dietary reasons and health conditions associated with each color, make sure not to ignore what your poop is trying to say you. All these shades and the probabilities are equally applicable to all of us. Also, people who have Crohn’s disease should be very much alert and should check the color of their stool daily.

What is Crohn’s disease?

It is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease or IBD that leads to the inflammation of the digestive tract that causes abdominal pain, weight loss, severe bloody diarrhoea, and malnutrition. People who have Crohn’s disease do show the signature symptom of bloody diarrhoea. However, that is not at all a good sign. Therefore, people suffering from this health condition are advised to have a close look at the color of their stools every day to find out signs of improvement.

Apart from the color of the stool, its shape, size, consistency, and the time you take to get them out of your body are also indicative of your health.

Let’s find out –

  • A normal stool gets its shape from the shape of the intestines, the place where it is formed. So, most poops somewhat look like a sausage or a log. However, if it diverts from its normal log-like appearance, it means it is up to signalling something.
  • Normal poop should come out as easily as 1, 2 and 3 and in a couple of inches long trails. If you are pooping out in small pellets or your poop looks like an amoeba or soft serve desserts or if it is watery, then certainly, there is some problem with your gut.
  • You might have seen people making fun of those who use washrooms for eternity. Relatives and friends make pooping jokes and pass hilarious comments indicating eternal bathroom users. However, the reality is healthy stools pass out in few minutes, maximum 10 to 15 minutes. So, if you take more than this time limit, then you might be suffering from constipation.

Do you know what the Bristol Stool Scale is?

As the name suggests, the Bristol Stool Scale is an all-encompassing scale that shows why and how different types of stools appear in a particular way. It is divided into seven categories. And, it is based on the responses collected through a survey conducted on 2000 respondents. Take a look –


Type Look Indication
Type 1 Hard, separated in lumps, hard to pass You are constipated. Lingering constipation is not good. Have Teas that make you poop.
Type 2 Sausage-shaped yet uneven and lumpy It is also a sign of mild constipation.
Type 3 Sausage-shaped, light cracks on its surface Wow! Good News. Your poop is healthy.
Type 4 Snake-shaped, smooth It is a normal poop.
Type 5 Separated in lumps, easy to pass, soft You should include more fibre as you lack it.
Type 6 Feathery and gooey It’s a sign of diarrhoea.
Type 7 Watery, no solidity at all Book a seat in the loo. You have diarrhoea


So, these are some of the most important things you should keep in your mind when it comes to passing out the stool and its color, size, shape, and consistency. Remember, a little bit of awareness from your end can save you from some health issues.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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