5 things the colour of your poo can tell you, according to the experts

5 things the colour of your poo can tell you, according to the experts

NHS advise on how to treat diarrhoea

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There’s no such thing as a perfect poo and everyone has their own happy medium. Your stools may vary in appearance from time to time depending on what you’ve eaten. Here are the 5 things the colour of your poo can reveal about you, according to the NHS and Mayo Clinic.

Poo comes in a range of colours, and most of the time it’s nothing to worry about if your poo is slightly darker or lighter than normal.

Your bowels are a key player in the digestive system and their main role is to digest everything you eat, absorb all the goodness and nutrients and expel the waste as poo.

Your poo is passed through your bowels because it cannot be used for anything, but you take a glimpse at your poo to understand a bit more about your health.

The colour of your poo is extremely revealing and can tell you what you’re lacking in your diet or what isn’t functioning properly in your body.

Here are the 5 things the colour of your poo can tell you.


If your poo is green, this could be due to the presence of bile pigment that hasn’t been broken down properly.

This can happen when food moves through the large intestine too quickly, such as due to diarrhoea.

If you have diarrhoea, you should follow the regular treatment recommendations such as stay hydrated and eat food when you’re able to.

The cause of green poo could be green leafy vegetables, green food colouring, such as in flavoured drink mixes or ice pops or iron supplements, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Light-coloured, white or clay-coloured

Light, white or clay-coloured poo indicates a lack of bile in the stool, which could be down to a bile duct obstruction.

The Mayo clinic said this could be down to certain medications, such as large doses of bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol) and other anti-diarrheal drugs.

The NHS site adds: “Some poo is light or more yellowish in colour.

“Lots of people do the odd pale stool. But if you find your poo is often pale you should tell a parent.

“A visit to the doctors is a good idea just to make sure everything’s okay.”

Yellow, greasy, foul-smelling

Excess fat in the stool, such as due to a malabsorption disorder, for example, celiac disease, can result in yellow, greasy, foul-smelling poo.

The Mayo Clinic says this may be a result of eating too much gluten such as bread and cereals or gluten intolerance.

It is recommended that you see a doctor as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment.


Bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach, can lead to black poo.

Don’t panic if you see very dark poo, as it could be down to something simple such as eating too many dark foods like blueberries or liquorice.

The Mayo Clinic explains that sometimes black poo is to do with taking too many iron supplements or too much bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol).

Sometimes black poo is a sign of something sinister like bowel cancer, so always check with a doctor before you self diagnose.

Bright red

Bright red poo could mean you have bleeding in the lower intestinal tract.

The Mayo Clinic says this could be from the large intestine or rectum, which is often from haemorrhoids.

Alternatively, it could be down to red food colouring, beets, cranberries, tomato juice or soup, red gelatin or drink mixes.

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