While unpleasant a topic of conversation if ever there were one, the color of stool is a common concern for many people, especially mothers of infants and young children. The color and consistency of a bowel movement can be dependent on a number of factors. While red and black stool may be cause for alarm, green stool rarely is.
Green stool is not usually considered abnormal. Green stool may most likely be caused by dietary intake and is closely related to the amount of bile in the stool. Bile is a yellowish green fluid found throughout the digestive tract that digests fat. Under a variety of circumstances related to the body’s gastrointestinal health at the time, bile can cause stool to become different colors or at least varying shades of the same color. Green is not uncommon and may be the result of too much or too little bile or food moving through the intestines too fast.
Diet can also effect stool color. Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli can cause green stool, and foods containing green food coloring can yield the same result. Just as often though, other food colors can have the same impact. Purple drinks are a particular culprit, especially in young children. Some dietary supplements, especially iron, can also cause green stool.
Another factor that could contribute to green stool is mucus. Mucus is present in the intestines and can cause stool to change color as it can consistency. Unless there is an excessive amount of mucus or a persistent change from normal bowel movement, it is likely nothing to be concerned with.
If you have recently changed your diet, have consumed a large quantity of sugary foods, or have had constipation, your stool may appear green a time or two before returning to normal. If you have green stool with other symptoms and cannot think of a reason why your bowel movements may have changed, call your doctor. While green stool is not considered abnormal, serious or chronic changes in bowel movement may indicate a cause for concern. Stool that is red or black may contain blood and should be discussed with a doctor. Many abdominal and digestive disorders and diseases are diagnosed with a change in bowel habits.