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Poo colour and what it tells you about your health…

Poo colour can tell you an awful lot about your digestive and general health, but it’s not something folk generally like to discuss.

Believe it or not, we get quite a few emails where people send photos of the poo with the question, “is this normal?”

I can be pretty graphic, and not always the best of things to bear witness to!

Don’t worry – I won’t share the details with you here, but let’s quickly discuss poo colour because it’s really important.

In my opinion and experience, we have a tendency to overlook the simple signs and symptoms of ‘sub-clinical’ health problems.

Fingernail quality, energy levels, sleep quality, skin and hair quality and others are excellent examples, but we prefer to wait for fancy tests and doctors’ opinions rather than take notice of what our body is telling us.

Assessing our bowel movements is a fantastic way to gauge overall digestive health.

When I felt unwell between 2004-2007, my bowel movements were smelly, sticky and frequently different in colour.

At the same time I felt tired, anxious, didn’t sleep well and had some skin problems.

As my bowel movements improved (largely because I was eradicating H pylori and my parasites), so too did my overall health.

So I think it’s really important to take notice of what’s going on with your digestion.

What is the ideal poo colour?

A good quality, healthy bowel movement should be mid brown in colour, firm and easy to pass.

If your stool is very light brown, yellow, black, dark red, or even white, it means something’s not right, and it’s advisable to have things properly investigated.

Here’s basic colour chart I use to help my clients understand what their poo colour should be:

poo colour

The scan chopped off a I would typically want my stool to be approximately the colour shown to the left of F13 and F14.

I know my digestion isn’t quite right when I move away from these colours – either lighter or darker.

Why poo colour changes

Stool colour can be affected by a number of factors, all of which need attention:

  • Pale brown or yellow (usually greasy) – this is by far the most common problem we see and involves poor liver and gallbladder function, poor bile production and an inability to digest fats properly, which leads to the pale colour. This can usually be dealt with using liver and gallbladder support, but it may also indicate parasite infection or SIBO as well as low stomach acid.
  • Dark red / tarry – if you’re not eating beets, which can cause red stools, this colour indicates possible bleeding in the upper GI tract caused by bleeding ulcers or other damage – it needs to be checked immediately with a doctor.
  • Black – charcoal and other dark coloured supplements can cause blackening of the stool. If you’re not taking this kind of supplement, yet your stool is still black, it may indicate bleeding in the upper part of your digestive system
  • White (but not because of mucus) – may indicate serious pancreatic problems (e.g. cancer – needs to be addressed immediately with a doctor).
  • Green – consuming a lot of greens, or green powder supplements, can lead to green stools; in the absence of abnormal consumption of these foods, green stools can indicate parasite infections and liver/gallbladder problems due to excessive bile production.
  • Bright red colour – this usually indicates fresh blood in the stool. This may NOT be serious as it can occur because of a haemorrhoid or anal tear; however it can indicate a more serious disorder in some people and should be checked out.

What to do if your stool is consistently miscoloured

If your poo colour is dark red in the absence of obvious dietary influences or medications, get some help.

If the stool is black, dark red, or has fresh blood in it, I recommend you see a doctor right away.

Green, yellow, pale brown stools indicate problems that are not likely to be considered seriously by doctors, but they can lead to problems further down the line.

If your liver and gallbladder are not working properly, it’s important to know why.

You can look at the GGT, ALT, AST and ALP enzymes on a blood chemistry test, as well as bilirubin, total protein, globulin and albumin levels.

We can help you interpret your blood chemistry much more thoroughly than your doctor is likely to do by running a functional blood chemistry analysis for you.

If you have altered stool colour and a whole bunch of symptoms – heartburn, bloating, gas, pain, constipation, loose stools and so on, the best starting point is a stool test.

It will show you the reasons why your digestion is playing up by identifying parasites, H pylori, Candida, gluten sensitivity, pancreatic function and so on.

As I’ve said before, a stool test is usually where you find the underlying cause.

It’s not something you’ll want to talk about with your friends, but it might just help to take away your symptoms for good.

You can learn more about one, or order here.



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