It can be alarming to see green stool after using the toilet but there are some common reasons why it occurs that you should be aware of. Take note that there are some possible causes of having green stool.
The liver produces a bright green fluid called bile into the small intestine or it is concentrated and stored in the gallbladder. Remember that bile plays a vital role in the emulsification, absorption and digestion of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. It helps in softening stools and responsible for providing stools with the characteristic brown color. In addition, bile helps alkalinize the contents of the intestines. It is made up of bile salts, phospholipids, cholesterol, electrolytes and bilirubin. Once bile makes its way through the small intestines and to the large intestines via the bile ducts, it changes color from green to yellow to brown due to the action of bacteria in the large intestine on the bile salts.
Green stool can often indicate that food has passed via the intestines quickly than normal, before it can change from green to brown. Take note that diarrhea reduces the bowel transit time, thus any condition that causes diarrhea can result to green stool.
Conditions that cause green stool
The following are the usual conditions that can cause green stool.
- Food poisoning
- Using laxatives
- Celiac disease
- Side effects of medications
- Watery diarrhea due to Clostridium difficile
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Infectious diarrhea due to giardia and salmonella
- Consumption of alcohol
- Traveler’s diarrhea
In some circumstances, soluble fiber should be increased to slow down the transit time. Soluble fiber is naturally present in food such as legumes, oats, barley, rye and certain fruits and vegetables.
Dyes, food and supplements that cause green stool
There are also certain foods, dyes and even supplements that can cause the greenish color of the stool.
- Kale, spinach and other green vegetables
- Green or purple food coloring used in drink mixes, cake icing, frozen ice pops, blue Gatorade and packaged fruit snacks
- Foods that contain the green pigment chlorophyll can cause the stool to turn green in color temporarily including grasses such as spirulina, wheatgrass and algae.
- Grape-flavored Pedialyte can turn stools bright green in color.
- Nutritional supplements that contain chlorophyll such as greens powder
- Iron supplements and iron-enriched products including baby formula can cause green stool
Once these foods, supplements and dyes are removed from the diet, the stool should return to its normal color within a day. The first bowel movements of infants are usually green-black in color. This is called as meconium and should not be present after the infant is 3 days old.
Always bear in mind that it is vital to consult the doctor regarding any symptoms or health issues including any changes in the stool.