Green bowel movements in adults can be alarming to many grownups. The normal color of our stool varies from light to dark brown and sometimes a dark yellowish tinge is somewhat acceptable. So what causes green bowel movements in adults? The primary thing to consider is our digestive tract because this is where food is digested and stool is produced.
Causes for Green Bowel Movements in Adults
Our digestive system is responsible for the breakdown of the food we eat. One of the important factors in digesting food is the bile. Bile is a bright green fluid produced by the liver. It is mainly responsible for the color of the stool to be excreted and it is responsible for the stool’s consistency as well. It is a fluid that absorbs fats and fat soluble vitamins. As stool, together with the bile, passes through the intestines, it slowly changes color from green to yellowish and then brown. The changes in color are due to the action of the good bacteria found in the walls of the large intestines on the bile salts. If the stool passes through the intestine at a faster pace than the norm, the stool will remain green. This usually happens when a person has loose bowel movement. Below are also other factors that contribute to the odd green coloring of an adult’s stool:
• Diet – Stool color often depends on the color of the food we eat. If the food consists of strong green pigment coloration, it is more likely that you will produce a green stool. Examples of these types of food would include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Food artificially incorporated with an intense green coloring can also cause green bowel movements in adults. The same thing is true for lime flavored beverages.
• Poor absorption – Constipation and diarrhea cause the malabsorption of food in the digestive tract. Essential nutrients cannot change the stool color due to its abnormal pace in the intestines. Lactose intolerance could also be a cause of a green stool. This is due to the inadequate absorption and breakdown of fats.
• Bacteria – E. coli and salmonella are bacteria that could alter the normal flow of a person’s digestive system. These bacteria are commonly found in food that is raw or not cooked well. These pathogens can also invade canned goods. The appearance of a protrusion in the can is an indicator that E. coli and salmonella are present. These bacteria cause food poisoning which will upset the normal flora of your digestive system and can later develop into diarrhea accompanied by the presence of a green stool.
• Celiac disease – Celiac disease is when there is an inflammation of the lining of the small intestines. It should be remembered that the small intestine consists of the essential nutrients to help absorb fat in the food we digest. When Celiac disease is present, there will be poor absorption during digestion thus leading to the green stool. One of its symptoms is diarrhea. This is an autoimmune disease caused by the gluten or wheat intolerance that reacts to gliadin (gluten protein) and would then result to an inflammation of the lining of the small intestine.
• Intestinal Disorders – Chron’s disease, Ulecative colitis and Psuedomembranous colitis are intestinal disorders that cause the inflammation of the ileum or the final section of the small intestines. Chron’s disease has constant diarrhea as its symptom, it damages the intestines leaving it sensitive and sore. Ulcerative colitis is when clusters of ulcers scatter through the linings of the intestinal wall damaging it in the process. This would lead to constant diarrhea and green bowel movements in adults. And finally, Psudomembranous colitis is caused by the constant intake of antibiotic drugs. The colon as well as the intestines will be damaged leading to very loose green stools.
Treatment for Green Bowel Movements in Adults
If green stool is present, the first thing to do is to think and remember the food you ate before you excreted waste. If the food you ate included green leafy vegetables or consisted of a strong food coloring, drink plenty of water and wait for the green coloring to disappear from your stool. Ample exercise can also help flush out the waste from your body. It would also help to drink lemonade as this would help you regain normal stool coloring with its cleansing effect in the intestine. If your stool is consistently green, it is best to seek medical assistance and advice from the doctor. He or she would conduct a series of diagnostic tests such as blood tests, x-ray and stool culture to determine if there is a more serious underlying illness present.
Green bowel movements in adults can either be harmless or serious. If it persists, it is best to consult your doctor to address the problem.