Green poop may mean you’ve been eating green foods or green, blue, or purple food coloring. It can also be caused by a disease that causes diarrhea or loose stools.
Stool tends to be brown. But green stool color changes are common and within the normal healthy stool color range. That said, if green stools (or other changes in stool color) persist, or if you have other symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or pain, you should see your doctor.
This article discusses eight possible causes of green poop (whether it’s dark, bright, light green, or floating). It also includes causes of green stools in pregnant women and babies, and when to see a doctor.
Your poop may be green after eating with green vegetables, such as:
- swiss chard
- Chinese cabbage
- green beans
- summer pumpkin
Green fruits like these can also turn your poop green:
- green apple
- green olives
- green grapes
Green poop after eating these foods doesn’t mean something is wrong.Dark green, leafy vegetables and green fruits are rich in chlorophyll– Pigments that give plants their color. Any of these plant foods can cause green poop if you eat enough.
Nuts like pistachios, seeds like hemp seeds, and herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro are also rich in chlorophyll. Matcha is a green tea powder that also makes stools bright green.
A small serving may not be enough to turn your stool green. You’re more likely to have green stools if you eat large meals, such as stools in smoothies, juices, soups, large salads, or guacamole.
Some foods contain green (or blue and yellow) food coloring, which may turn your poop green. These dyes are sometimes used in canned green peas, green beer, breakfast cereals, candy, canned pickles, salad dressings, beverages, icing and candy. You’ll also see these dyes in holiday foods.
This video has been medically reviewed by Chris Vincent, MD.
blue and purple food
Dark blue or purple foods can sometimes cause green poop. This includes blueberries, grapes and red wine.
Purple (or red and blue) food coloring can also cause dark or bright green poop. These dyes are in:
- mixed drink
- Grape Kool-Aid and soda
- frozen popsicles
- cake frosting
- blue juice
- Packaged Fruit Snacks
- Grape Pedialyte
Food dye colors are often used during Kwanzaa, Easter, Eid al-Fitr, St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween.
Eating lots of green fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, or herbs can turn your poop green. You may also have green poop after eating dark blue or purple foods. Foods that contain green, blue, purple (or red and blue) food dyes can do the same.
Coffee, spicy food and alcohol
As bile passes through the small intestine and into the large intestine, its color changes from green to yellow to brown. This is due to how bacteria in the large intestine act on bile salts.
Coffee, alcohol, jalapenos, and chili peppers can make you have to poop faster. These foods have a laxative effect, causing food to flow through the intestines too quickly to change from green to brown.
How bile aids digestion
Vitamins, Supplements and Medicines
Taking iron supplements can change the color of stool to dark green (or black). Other vitamins, supplements, and teas that may cause green poop include:
- Senna, cascara sagrada, rhubarb and fiber supplements
- Supplements that contain chlorophyll, such as wheatgrass, spirulina, barley grass, chlorella, and blue-green algae
- Yerba mate
- Medications that can cause diarrhea as a side effect, such as metformin, Lexapro (Escitalopram), Nyquill, Zoloft (Sertraline), or antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin
What Does Green Diarrhea Mean and When Should You Be Concerned?
Eating more green vegetables and fruits can turn your poop green. Juicing or juice cleansers can also increase your chlorophyll intake and make green stools more likely.
If you’re having a colon cleanse, you may also have green stools. That’s because colon cleansing causes food to rush through your intestines.
A high-fat diet like the ketogenic diet may turn your poop bright green. With a high-fat diet, your body produces more bile to digest these fats. As a result, more green bile may flow out of your stool.
Doing a colon clean or eating anything with a laxative effect, such as coffee, fiber supplements, or spicy foods, can turn your poop green. These items can cause stool to rush through the intestines so quickly that gut bacteria can’t turn the stool into its usual brown color.
Green stools may appear during pregnancy. Some women get the infection during the first few weeks of pregnancy. In many cases, it happened before they even knew they were pregnant. Other women get it by taking iron supplements or prenatal vitamins, which contain more iron than typical multivitamins.
Green stools can also occur in the third trimester. Some women experience loose green stools later in pregnancy when food often passes quickly through the intestines.
Babies, toddlers and older children
Babies’ first poop tends to be green to black. This is called “Meconium.“It usually stops after they are three days old.
Dark green (or green-black) poop in babies can be caused by iron supplements and iron-rich foods such as infant formula. If your baby’s poop looks black or dark, it’s best to talk to your doctor or pediatrician.
If a breastfed baby has green poop, it may be something in the mother’s diet, such as green vegetables or foods made with green or purple food coloring. In some cases, it may be that the mother or baby is sensitive or allergic to something in the diet.
Green stools in breastfed infants (especially “EBF” or exclusively breastfed infants) may indicate that the infant is consuming too much low-calorie, low-fat foremilk (the first milk present at breastfeeding) and not enough hindmilk. higher in fat.
It could also mean that the baby isn’t feeding long enough on each breast. The baby may not be draining the breast enough. Alternatively, there may be an oversupply of breast milk. A lactation consultant may be able to help find the problem.
Children often eat foods that contain food coloring, including greens, purples, blues and yellows, or reds and blues. They are found in grape Pedialyte and some children’s breakfast cereals, beverages, candy, birthday cakes and cookies.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy and the third trimester, stool may be green. Pregnant women may experience green stools due to prenatal vitamins or iron supplements. Breastfed babies may have green stools because of something in their or their mother’s diet.
Diarrhea causes stool to pass through the intestines more quickly, so anything that causes diarrhea can result in green stool, such as:
- food poisoning
- Infectious or traveler’s diarrhea, especially Salmonella, E. coli, and Giardia (Bacterial, parasitic, and viral gut infections can cause your gut to flush faster than normal)
- Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (also called pseudomembrane colitis)
- Lactose intolerance
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Celiac disease
- ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Eating disorders involving laxative abuse
- After surgery, such as a cesarean section (also called a C-section)
- Graft-versus-host disease (a disease that can occur after a bone marrow transplant)
when to see a doctor
You should consult your doctor if your green stools persist and/or if you also have any of the following symptoms:
- stomach pain or pain
- blood in the stool (or black stool)
- watery or liquid stools
- any other unusual symptoms
A rare but serious cause of green feces in children and adults is poisoning by chemicals such as paraquat, a pesticide in herbicides.
Green stools with visible mucus may mean your bowel lining is inflamed. If you notice this frequently, it may be a sign of a condition that may need treatment, especially if you have other symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
Like green poop, floating green poop is usually normal and has something to do with what you eat. In some cases (especially if it’s an ongoing problem), floating stool can mean your gut isn’t absorbing fat properly.
Identify healthy and unhealthy stools
Stool is usually brown because bacteria in the gut gradually change color during digestion. However, green poop is common at any age.
Stool usually turns green because you ate or drank something green, and usually returns to brown within a day or two.
Your stool can also turn green if you are having a colon cleanse, eating something laxative, or having diarrhea. This is because the stool moves through the gut so quickly that the gut bacteria don’t have enough time to turn it brown.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is baby poop green?
Some formulas can turn baby’s poop green. Other causes include sensitivity to something in the mother’s diet (if they are breastfeeding), a newborn’s first stool (meconium), a viral or bacterial infection, or the introduction of solid foods such as vegetables.
What does the color of your poop mean?
The color and shape of stool is caused by several factors. Diet, health conditions, and medications can change your stool. For example, black or tarry stools (such as coffee grounds) may indicate gastrointestinal bleeding. See a doctor right away.
What shape should my poo be?
The stool should look like a long S-shaped tube as it forms in the intestines. Poop that has a different shape can be a sign of a health problem, for example, poop that is thin and sticky or looks like pebbles. Take note of the shape of your poop and discuss any ongoing changes with your doctor.
Green stool can be within the normal color range of stool color. If your stool color keeps changing or you have any other unusual symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition. For the most part, the occasional green poop is nothing to worry about. If your green stool is caused by something you eat, your stool should return to its normal color within a day or two.