What the Colour of Your Poo Says About You

Check out the updated post: What Your Poo Says About You!

When you have a bowel movement, your body is providing you with incredible insight as to the state of your health and digestion. If you don’t regularly check the toilet bowl after having a bowel movement then you should! Please note: “stools”, “crap”, “bowel movements”, “BMs” all refer to “POOP”. Here’s what you need to know:

Black-coloured poop:

  • iron supplements or foods high in iron
  • Pepto-Bismol or other meds with bismuth
  • acidified blood (blood from higher in the digestive tract)
  • Tylenol and other pain meds
  • black licorice
  • large amounts of spinach or other greens
  • blueberries
  • other foods dark in color

Red-coloured poop:

Pale or clay-coloured poop:

  • a good indication you need to do a liver cleanse
  • liver disease or congestion (such as hepatitis or obstruction of bile ducts)
  • antacids containing aluminum hydroxide
  • barium from a recent barium enema test

Green-coloured poop:

  • large amounts of green, leafy vegetables (ya! for you)
  • green or purple artificial coloring (popsicles, Kool-Aid, gelatin)
  • iron supplements
  • infectious gastroenteritis
  • rapid bowel transit from coffee or decreased colonic transit time (ie. constipation)

Orange-coloured poop:

  • some medications (such as beta-carotene and Rifampen)
  • foods high in beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, winter squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, and mangoes. you would have to eat a heck of a lot of orange foods for this to occur


Causes of undigested food particles in your poop:

  • Not chewing enough (remember your stomach does not have teeth!) and eating too fast
  • Eating food that cannot be digested ie. corn, peanuts etc
  • Consuming too many stimulants, forcing the evacuation of food from your gut before it’s actually ready ie. caffeine containing beverages


Changes in the color, consistency, and frequency of your bowel movements is completely normal from time to time. Your diet and level of stress will immediately impact your digestion which will be visible going out the other end. This information is NOT meant to treat or diagnose, so please visit your doctor or qualified practitioner for advice on getting your poop in order.

And just in case you were wondering — the ideal poop colour is chestnut brown.

Get more insight into your gut and be sure to read: Constipated? Reasons Why Your Poop Isn’t Leaving In A Timely Fashion

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more...



National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Bleeding in the Digestive Tract.” National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. November 2004. 22 Apr 2009.

A.D.A.M. Health Illustrated Encyclopedia. “Bloody or tarry stools.” A.D.A.M. 25 July 2007. 22 Apr 2009.

A.D.A.M. Health Illustrated Encyclopedia. “Stools – pale or clay-colored.” A.D.A.M. 8 Aug 2008. 23 Apr 2009.

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  • I’ve been looking forward to this post! I often find my morning oats pass right through me because I scarf them down in the 10 minutes I have before my 8 month old starts fussing!
    Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at your RAW cooking class

    • Hey! That’s great, so glad you are coming to the class tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone!

  • Love this article. I am always too embarrassed to ask my doctor about these sorts of things. So what do you suggest one do to improve the health of their BM’s if they are not the right colour?

    • Thanks Jane! Don’t worry, most people feel the same as you. There are MANY things one can do to improve their digestion and it’s truly one of the most important aspects of human health. Good health stems from a clean gut which means good BM’s. Diet, exercise and limiting stress are all very critical. While I realize that’s a pretty broad response, everyone is different and it’s not until I do a nutritional assessment/intake on a client that I can properly advise and recommend what to eliminate and add to your diet. So while I would love to give recos over my blog, I’m a bit hesitant because everyone is different. However, I won’t leave you hanging, I suggest you peruse my blog and there are a plethora of tips for good digestion, everything from chewing slowly, to avoiding drinking liquids while eating food. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks Joy. I will get in touch as I definitley need some help.

  • I have noticed my BM’s are often pale and wimpy looking after a night of drinking beer. While I realize this is not healthy, I’m a guy – I like beer!

    • Sounds like you need to give your liver some love Marty :) Your liver is the primary organ for detoxifying alcohol, as I’m sure you are aware. The fact that your stools are pale and “wimpy” looking may very well be related to your night of drinking. I have a liver loving detox package you should check out! Visit my services page. As well, cutting back on drinking is obviously going to improve your health immensely. Hope that helps!

  • Speaking from experience, yes, eating beets will turn your poo a deep red coulour, but if you eat a whole lot of beets, your urine will also turn red which I didn’t know before it happened…

  • Lol , great post and comments too. BM is a very important indicator of our situation and often ignored one !

    • Yes, you want it to sink. Floaters are usually a sign that you are not properly breaking down fat. However, it’s hard to say without doing a proper wellness intake evaluation. That is the most common cause.

  • Thanks for the article, and a big thank you for not posting any pictures! now to eat some beets…


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  • I’m been feeling sick for 2 weeks and my poo is very pale and floats, I have butterflies in my stomach, I just feel unwell, please can you help.?

  • So I ate nothing but pre sliced carrots and drank coffee since 2pm yesterday and it’s now 11am. I probably had a third of the bag because I grabbed it to go to work. Is this enough to turn my poop orange? It was probably 1-2 cups.. and it was a darker orange

    • It’s tough to say, but that could be the cause. I would suggest you try some delicious recipes here!

  • hi! just wanna have another question – i had a beef burger and some beef cubes last night and a pint of cider and i had one piece of normal brown poop after that. i thought i was a bit constipated because usually i had to wait for quite a while and there was only one piece of poop (though it wasn’t small or pellet-sized).

    but then this morning, after breakfast i had to go quite urgently again. i thought it was diarrhea but it was just normal poop in texture, a few banana-shaped pieces and it was easy to come out. BUT it was super dark in colour. I’m not sure if it’s like BLACK black but it certainly wasn’t a nice normal brown :( i could still see white pieces of nuts that I eat (I eat some nuts everyday).

    my question is…could it be bleeding? My dark poop was not sticky, but it was normal in texture and it didn’t really smell bad at all. Also, if it’s really bleeding, then wouldn’t the blood cover the white nut pieces?

    • I’d like to add that I’ve had too much coffee yesterday, and junk food together with my beef burger. Not sure if that contributes to darker stool?

    • Hi Oly,

      Food can alter the colour of your stool, but if you suspect blood in your stool, we always recommend checking with your primary healthcare practitioner, just to be sure. It never hurts to check to be on the safe side.

      Kate – Joyous Health Team

  • I didn’t see a question about what the color black poop means