We’ve discussed how to poop for optimal health, as well as what your poop says about your health. But what’s the deal with green poop?
Is green poop something to be concerned about? Or is it no biggie?
In this post, we’ll explain what causes green poop, and what to do about it—for you, and baby too!
Why is my poop green? (and what does green poop mean?)
Your poop says a lot about your health. And while form, frequency, and odor are important indicators of bowel function, so is color.
Before we dive into deeper health issues, know that green poop may simply mean that you’re eating lots of leafy greens or other green foods, which is a good thing!
But for most people, green poop is a sign that something isn’t quite right with their digestion.
Foods that may make your poop green
Here are the most common foods that may cause green poop:
- Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
- Green food powder
- Juice from vegetable and fruit juicing, particularly during a juicing fast
- Foods high in the green pigment chlorophyll, like algae, wheatgrass, spirulina, and seaweed
Other things that can cause green stools are food dyes, antibiotics, and iron supplements.
Green poop tied to poor digestion
If you aren’t powering down the green foods or iron supplements, green poop may signal that you’re processing your food too fast and having issues with malabsorption.
When everything is working properly, the liver produces bile (a light green substance), which is then stored in the gallbladder. When you eat a meal that contains adequate fat, the gallbladder releases bile to help emulsify and break down the fatty acids.
The bile also helps to dump toxins that may be stored in the liver (so it’s important!).
In a healthy individual, the liver produces about a quart of bile a day.
Bile also signals the pancreas to release digestive enzymes to further breakdown the food we eat every day.
As your food continues to digest, bacteria and enzymes in the large intestine turn bile (and your feces) from green to yellow to brown.
But sometimes these processes move too fast. This can be caused by:
- Imbalance of good gut flora
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Food poisoning
- Infections like Salmonella and Giardia
- Heavy metal exposure
The above conditions can speed up the pace at which food is processed. When that happens, bile may not be broken down like it should, and can come out green instead of brown.
Additionally, if the bacteria and enzymes in the colon are less than optimal, the bile won’t be fully broken down.
Diarrhea causing green poop
Diarrhea can also be the culprit behind green poop. Food may be passing through your digestive tract too quickly for your bile to break it down properly.
If you’ve eaten something you’re sensitive to, or you have a stomach bug, diarrhea will often be the result.
However, diarrhea can be a marker for other serious health concerns, so if it lasts longer than a few days, talk to your healthcare provider immediately.
Why is my baby’s poop green?
In the very early days of life, green poop is simply the baby’s transition from meconium—a mixture of intestinal epithelial cells, mucus, bile, amniotic fluid, and water—to regular poop, which should be a mustard yellow color if breast-feeding.
In babies a week old and older, a green poop may indicate digestive distress. A foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, caused by oversupply or a fast letdown, may be to blame. This just means that baby is getting too much of the lactose in the foremilk, which can cause an upset tummy.
Laid-back breast-feeding can help with a fast letdown, but another way to fix this problem is to make sure baby finishes one side before offering the other breast. A bad latch can be to blame for a milk imbalance as well. Consult a lactation consultant if you think baby isn’t latching well.
Sometimes babies have green poop because they are sensitive to something you are eating (most likely dairy). An elimination diet can help you pinpoint or rule out food sensitivities.
If baby has recently eaten blueberries, spinach, kale, or other leafy greens, that may cause his poop to be green too, which is perfectly normal.
Infant iron supplements can also cause baby to have a dark green poop.
Read more about what your baby’s poop means here.
What can I do to make my green poop go away?
After making lifestyle changes to optimize your poop, taking care of the underlying issue is the best way to make your green poop go away for good.
Let’s start with digestion.
To stop your green poo and turn it into a healthy brown hue (think the color of milk chocolate), you need to support your liver, gallbladder, and digestive tract. Here are some important ways to do that:
Support your liver, gallbladder, and digestion by eating as cleanly as possible. That means lots of organic vegetables, some fruit and protein, plenty of healthy fats, and few or no sugars and refined grains.
If you can, don’t snack. This can help improve digestion and let your gallbladder fully release during your mealtimes versus sputtering constantly due to grazing.
With each meal, consume some sort of sour or fermented food. Sour foods stimulate bile production and help to support digestion. Some examples include:
- Eat 1/4 cup of naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, beet kvass, kombucha, or pickles.
- Add 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar to 1/3 cup of water. Drink before or during meals.
- Eat a few wedges of lemon and/or grapefruit with each meal.
Do not follow a low-fat diet. Prior to the 1940’s, no human society followed this kind of diet long-term (unless they were in extreme poverty or there was a famine), and it doesn’t support our biology.
Our brains, cell membranes and tissues all need fat! Our gallbladders do too, as this keeps them active and functional. In fact, according to some sources, our gallbladders will not work optimally unless we eat at least 12 grams of fat per meal. Here are some examples of what this would look like:
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil, butter, or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of raw cream or sour cream
- 1/3 of an avocado
- A small handful of nuts or seeds
- 1 ounce of cheddar cheese
Bottom line: Be sure to include a fat source with each meal! One caveat: If you’ve been eating a low-fat diet, increase the amount of fat you eat slowly to allow your body to adjust gradually.
Bile-stimulating elixir: citrus juice & olive oil
If you still want or need extra support, you can make this special elixir that combines two elements that stimulate our gallbladders more than anything: sour foods, and fat.
- 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon, grapefruit, or orange juice
- 1 tablespoon of organic olive oil
Put the juice into a small glass, and add your olive oil. Mix well and drink.
Consume this on an empty stomach first thing in morning, or right before bedtime.
If that doesn’t sound appealing or doable, you can make a salad dressing instead, using:
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1 crushed clove garlic
- Sea salt to taste
Use liberally on salads with meals.
Supplements to support digestion
If you want even more support, you can use liver-boosting herbs like dandelion, used in a tea (or make my Liver Love Detox drink each night!), or holy basil (where to buy).
Other supplements known to support liver function (which is intrinsically tied to gallbladder health) include:
Other important supplements that target digestion include:
Finally, the most important aspect: You want to support healthy gut flora, which helps change your poop from green to brown. Here are some good probiotics:
Green poop: When to see a doctor
If your green poop persists, despite trying all of the digestive support, it’s time to see a doctor. She can perform a stool test, look at other digestive markers, and provide you a roadmap to recovery.
(Of course, if you have bad diarrhea, it’s imperative to seek medical treatment right away!)
The verdict on green poop
Green poop means one of two things:
- You’re eating lots of green foods
- Or something isn’t quite right in your digestion
Green poop is usually nothing to worry about if it happens occasionally and goes away. But if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, or you feel like something isn’t quite right, talk to your healthcare provider.