What the Shape and Color of Your Stool Say About Your Health

14 June, 2020
You need to pay attention to any changes in the shape or color of your stool, because even a small change could be a symptom that something is wrong.

Your stool should be brown in color – not very light or dark – in order to be considered normal. The texture should be solid, but not excessively so.

To ensure these characteristics are met, it’s important that all four phases of digestion are completed:

Ingestion: when food enters your body.

Digestion: the chemical process in which food is converted into smaller molecules.

Absorption: the molecules pass through your digestive tract to reach your bloodstream and are distributed to your organs.

Egestion: Your body eliminates any food residues that weren’t digested.

Most of your stool is composed of about 75% water and the rest includes bacteria from the food that couldn’t be digested, along with substances that are shed by your intestines and the liver.

Different colors of stool


woman on toilet

  • The reason your body’s waste may take on this shade is because bile didn’t have time to break it down.
  • It passed through your intestines and the colon too quickly.

You may also be consuming high amounts of chlorophyll, which is found in vegetables, iron supplements, or dyes.

Read also: teas that fight digestion problems


This color could be caused by several factors. Among them are the following:

  • A condition known as Gilbert’s syndrome, which is an excess of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
  • The bacteria Giardia can cause a yellowish tone.
  • Other diseases include hepatitis and liver abnormalities.

In the rarest of cases, it’s caused by an irregularity in the absorption of nutrients.

Dark red

woman on toilet
Generally, this color indicates that there is internal bleeding due to ulcers, varicose veins, or gastritis. It could be in the esophagus, the stomach, or even the small intestine.

In some cases, it’s simply due to eating foods with dyes, such as tomatoes, beets, or blueberries.


A brownish color is considered to be completely normal. This is the color that results from the secretion of substances by your liver.

Depending on what you eat and the amount your liver secretes, the color may vary somewhat. As long as it is brown or slightly greenish, there’s nothing to worry about.


woman on toilet
If you notice that your stool has taken on a very dark or black color, it’s a good idea to see your doctor immediately.

  • Among the possible causes for this is bleeding in the upper digestive tract, which includes the areas between the esophagus, the stomach, or the small intestine.
  • Another cause could be the accumulation of coagulated blood.
  • In some cases, it’s just due to the intake of certain medications, such as iron.


Stool of a whitish color is not normal under any circumstances. There could be a problem with your liver or gallbladder.

White stool could be a symptom of hepatitis or cirrhosis, and antacids are responsible for secreting substances that cause it to be a much lighter color.

Be careful what you eat

  • One of the most important nutrients for digestion is fiber, which helps fight constipation, lowers cholesterol levels, and prevents the appearance of cancerous cells in the colon.
  • Chew your food slowly. Often we get overwhelmed by our busy schedule and don’t take the time to eat meals in peace. This can wind up having an effect on your digestion because your stomach isn’t able to process 100% of it.
  • Avoid eating foods that aren’t of vegetable or animal origin. Dyes, flavors, and other toxic substances not only alter the color of your stool, they can also damage your health.
  • Add probiotics to your diet. Yogurt and certain supplements contain good bacteria that help aid digestion and maintain good consistency in your stool.

We recommend: 8 herbs to improve lung health

In conclusion, changes in the texture and color of your stool can be caused by a variety of factors.

It’s a good idea to see a specialist to rule out any illness, regardless of whether it’s mild or severe. As you’ve seen, sometimes it’s only due to the natural and artificial colors in the products you consume.

  • Lewis, S. J., & Heaton, K. W. (1997). Stool form scale as a useful guide to intestinal transit time. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. https://doi.org/10.3109/00365529709011203
  • Vandeputte, D., Falony, G., Vieira-Silva, S., Tito, R. Y., Joossens, M., & Raes, J. (2016). Stool consistency is strongly associated with gut microbiota richness and composition, enterotypes and bacterial growth rates. Gut. https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309618
  • Robertson, D. J., & Dominitz, J. A. (2014). Stool DNA and Colorectal-Cancer Screening. New England Journal of Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMe1400092