Green is not an unlikely color for human feces and it is not as rare in occurrence as most people assume it is. Depending on the specific reason responsible for the somewhat uncommon color of the feces, one may or may not need medical advice. It is important to try and determine the possible cause or causes before coming to a conclusion.
What causes the poop to turn green?
1. Vegetables — One’s diet is often responsible for the color if it includes a large bulk of green vegetables rich in iron. Healthy as it is, the chlorophyll pigment contained in dark green leafy vegetables are found to be responsible in a lot of the occasions for this particular phenomenon. Examples of such vegetables include spinach, broccoli, arugula, lettuce, peas and kale.
2. Red wine — It has been proven to be responsible at times for turning one’s poop green when had in a large quantity. The sugar and fructose content in red wine is what makes it one of the causes behind green feces and the color is found to be brighter if the digestive system was lacking in grains and salts while the wine was being drunk.
3. Supplements — People often take iron pills or supplements to make up for any possible iron eficiency in one’s system and due to the same reason as to why iron-rich vegetables turn poop green, these can do the same as well. It is a fairly common incident for people who take iron pills and therefore is not a cause for alarm.
4. Added Colors — Artificial coloring is a regular practice nowadays with food items such as ice cream, colored soft drinks, cakes, edible glitters, gelatin, chocolates and other similar items. Consuming any of these green, purple, red, pink, violet, blue or yellow artificial colors via the food items may result in green feces or feces that is similar in color of the food consumed. Although the color of the feces is not in itself a reason to be alarmed about, health professionals advice people to restrict the intake of artificial coloring to as little as possible.
5. Diarrhea — What happens is that during the course of the diarrhea (which is often brought on by the presence of giardia), the stool is passed out through the large intestine at an accelerated pace (rapid transit). This does not allow the greenish stool to turn brown as it occurs only when the feces remains within the large intestine for a significant amount of time. The greenish color of the stool is brought on by the bile (produced by the liver and released by the gall bladder), which is green itself. At times, even when the person is not suffering from diarrhea, green poop might be observed if the liver releases extra bile to process triglycerides and fat cells after a particularly fatty meal. Diarrhea induced green stool might also be held as a sign of malabsorption.
6. Food poisoning — Food poisonings can disturb the entire digestive system and cause all sorts of problems for the person affected. Green poop is one of those symptoms or effects of food poisoning, which is usually brought on by the effect of a bacterium known as salmonella. This particular bacterium is usually contracted through consumption of unprocessed or putrid milk, decomposing dairy products, unpurified water, undercooked bird meat (chickens, ducks, turkeys) and even eggs. Salmonella induced food poisoning is a serious condition and will require immediate medical attention.
7. Medications — Use of laxatives or similar medications may often cause an effect which is similar to the effects of diarrhea that is the stool may pass through the large intestine faster than it normally would. The effect would be of course green poop due to the presence of unusually high amounts of green bile in the stool. Certain antibiotics can affect the normal bacterial ecosystem in our bowels and at times, such an upset may be the reason behind green feces as well.
8. Diseases and Disorders — Though not very common, but it has been found that certain diseases and
disorders like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and even overgrowth of bacteria that are natural residents of the human digestive system can be responsible for green stool. If none of the causes mentioned earlier, apply in your particular case, it is advised that you should get yourself checked to determine if any of these ailments are behind the greenish color of your feces.
What should be done about it?
One’s reaction should largely be determined only after the cause is pinpointed because depending on the cause and the physiological aspects of the person involved, there might be the need for serious medical treatment or no treatment at all. In fact, in most of the cases, the effect is not long lasting; for example, drinking red wine, colored foods/colored drinks or iron tablets will only make one’s poop green until the source material is cleared out of the system via bowel movements. Drinking a lot of water everyday can actually help you clear out your colon without going for a systematic colon cleanse. If the reason for green poop is found to be an overzealous vegetarian meal, then not only are there no negative effects, the fibers and triglyceride processing capabilities of the coniferous vegetables might be something that one may gain from; they also help to keep one’s colon clear from toxins and other deposits. Green stool which comes from consuming artificial colors do not harm the body in the short term, but prolonged exposure to the artificial colors and other accompanying additives might damage one’s entire system beyond treatment.
From this aspect, green poop which results from eating too much artificial coloring should be taken as a danger sign of diseases that might develop in the future. If however, the green poop is accompanied by additional symptoms such as acute pain, lasting discomfort, loss of appetite, diarrhea, recurring acidity, etc, then clinical check up is a necessity.
One would also need to recollect and check if he/she had ingested anything that could possibly be responsible for food poisoning brought on by salmonella or giardia bacteria. If it is indeed food poisoning, immediate medical attention is vital to the recovery and future health of the patient. A clinical check up will reveal the reason behind the green poop, even if it is not caused by food poisoning and turns out to be the result of some sort of an intestinal disorder. It has been established that a lot of the intestinal disorders can be cured or controlled if they are diagnosed at an early stage, via balanced diets, proper medication and appropriate exercise regimens.
Infants and green poop
Infants are frequently found to poop green, especially the ones that are still on breast milk. It is not considered to be an issue and no treatment might be required at all, but it is safer to report it to the pediatrician so that the condition can be monitored. As the newborn starts to eat, digest and pass stool for the first few times, the entire system adjusts with the new conditions; which involves development of healthy digestive bacteria, digestive acids, green bile and a host of other complicated bodily processes associated with the development of the human digestive system.