What green stools can tell you about your health

Green stools can be an indicator of a medical issue. (Getty Images)
Green stools can be an indicator of a medical issue. (Getty Images)

Even though everyone does it, it’s still a little taboo to talk about poo. Yet, the colour of our stools can actually tell us a lot about our health.

Studies have found that having a bowel movement anywhere between three times a day to three times a week is considered 'normal'.

A recent report from ZOE found that most Brits (54%) poo once a day, while just 0.38% poo only once a week – it also found the most common time for a number two was just after breakfast (60%), or just after waking up (33%).

So, while you may be aware of how often we should poo, did you know that the colour of your stool can be an indicator of your health?

"The colour and consistency of your poo can offer crucial insights into our digestive health," gut health expert Chris Dubberley from Incontinence Shop, says.

"A healthy stool typically presents as medium brown, soft and well-formed. Any difference from this requires some attention and possible evaluation by a healthcare professional."

However, Dubberley adds that some dietary factors such as beetroot, and even green vegetables can alter the stool colour. Read on to find out what colours to look out for.

More often than not, green-coloured stools can be attributed to excessive intake of leafy greens, or can be a side effect of certain medications – however, it could also signal a medical issue.

"Green stools may signal a bacterial infection," Dubberley explains, "particularly if accompanied by diarrhoea and general malaise."

Female doctor consulting with the overweight patient, discussing test result in doctor office. Obesity affecting middle-aged men's health. Concept of health risks of overwight and obesity.
It's important to seek medical attention if you notice any persistent discolouration in your stools. (Getty Images)

"A persistent yellow hue may indicate underlying issues such as coeliac disease," Dubberley says.

"This condition, if undiagnosed, can lead to significant gastrointestinal distress and malabsorption of nutrients."

If your stool is consistently dark, and you aren’t taking any supplements such as iron tablets, this could indicate that there may be some bleeding in your upper gastrointestinal tract. If you notice this, then you should book an appointment with your GP as soon as you can.

"It's important not to overlook this symptom, as it could potentially point to serious conditions such as bowel cancer, where early detection is so important," Dubberley explains.

"People experiencing constipation may also notice dark, hard-to-pass stools. However, it's essential to distinguish between constipation-related discolouration and that caused by underlying issues, such as bleeding. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help differentiate benign from concerning causes."

If dark stools are accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, weakness or vomiting, then you should seek medical attention urgently.

Dubberley adds: "Early detection and intervention are crucial in managing potentially life-threatening conditions."