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How to interpret the color of your stools? A gastroenterologist’s answer

  • May 14, 2024
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Green, yellow, red… The color of the excrement must be taken into consideration when go to the stool. If this can vary depending on the diet adopted, it remains an interesting indicator for detecting potential health problems. As a reminder, stools are essentially made up of water and biological waste.

In a video posted on his Instagram account @thastronomiehdoc, Dr. Joseph Salhab, an American gastroenterologist, stressed the vital importance of examining the color of one’s excrement before flushing the toilet. Indeed, according to him, “the color of stools can say a lot about your state of health”. He also explained the different meanings of feces colors to make it easier to recognize potential health problems.

Stool colors: what do they mean?

In the caption of his video, the gastroenterologist explains that the color of stools is a useful indicator for finding out about your general state of health. Indeed, according to him it is essential to understand what the different stool colors mean in order to seek medical advice as quickly as possible in the event of health problems. Here’s what each stool color means according to the expert.

Meaning of brown stools

According to the gastroenterologist, brown is the typical stool color. Indeed, in his video, he specifies that brown generally indicates that “the digestive system is in good health”. So there is no need to worry if your stools are brown.

Meaning of green stools

Are your stools green in color? According to the expert, this means that green leafy vegetables or green food colorings are moving too quickly through your digestive tract. “Which does not leave enough time to the bile to completely decompose”he indicates.

Meaning of yellow stools

To have some yellow feces revealed “excess fat in the stools”, explains the gastroenterologist. This can be according to the specialist, “the sign of malabsorption disorders such as pancreatic insufficiency, bile acid deficiency or celiac diseasebut also a sign that the body is not absorbing nutrients correctly”.

Meaning of pale or clay-colored stools

Your stools seem rather clear ? This reflects, as the gastroenterologist explains, a lack of bile“which may be due to obstruction of the bile ducts or gallbladder, as well as certain liver problems.”

Meaning of blue or purple stools

This color of feces is judged “extremely rare” by the gastroenterologist. When it occurs, it results, according to the expert’s explanations, “consumption of foods or drinks strongly colored blue or purple”.

Meaning of black or tarry stools

When the stools are black, this may be due to taking certain medications (the gastroenterologist cites one in particular, sold in the United States). This color can also result from overconsumption of iron. A color to which special attention must be paid according to the specialist, because it can also reveal, “bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as an ulcer, and requires immediate medical attention.”

Meaning of red stools

If your feces are red, it could mean two things depending on the gastroenterologist. Either this color is due to eating red-colored foods such as beetroot or food coloring, or it is due to the presence of blood in the stool. So, as the expert explains in his video, if your stools are red, it is best to talk to your doctor, because “the blood in stool should never be ignored”.

You should also pay attention to any changes in the stool, whether in color or consistency. In any case, do not hesitate to consult your doctor.

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Oceane Letouze