Why Poop Is Brown

Today I found out why poop is brown.

Poop is brown due to bile from your gall bladder being metabolized by the bacteria in your intestines.  This results in a byproduct called stercobilin, which, in turn, makes poop look brown-ish.

Without this stercobilin, your poop would typically look grey-ish/white.  Because of this, a sure sign you are having problems with bile production, such as a blocked bile duct by a gall stone or something more serious like pancreatic cancer, is if you notice your poop is this white/grey-ish color.

In the end *pun intended*, brown poop is a pretty good sign you are a relatively healthy individual.  Some other common poop colors that generally aren’t a good sign of health are as follows:

  • If you notice your poop is red, this could be a sign of internal bleeding or could just mean you’ve recently eaten beets.  If the cause is bleeding and the bleeding is from your stomach or throat, however, your poop won’t be red, but rather black and will smell worse than that time you decided you should eat a box of Twinkies and a box of Cheesy Handi-Snacks all in one sitting.
  • Yellow poop means there is a lot of fat in your feces.  This is not a good sign.  Consider turning this into a positive by making poop candles with your fatty deposits. Yellow poop also has a very strong odor, which will give your poo-candles that little something extra.
  • Green poop is an indicator of some sort of bacterial infection or that you are a vegetarian and eat way too much leafy foods for your own good.  Seriously, try some bacon.  It’s delicious.

Bonus Facts:

  • When you see corn in your poop, this isn’t the whole kernel, though it may look like it.  What you are actually seeing is the outer yellow part, which is mostly cellulose and indigestible (fiber).  The inside of the kernel will have been digested as it is primarily starch.
  • Poop generally stinks because of the sulfur-rich organic compounds produced by bacteria, such as indole, skatole, and mercaptans.  Another contributing factor is an inorganic gas that is produced, hydrogen sulfide.
  • Poop of meat eaters smells worse than the poop of vegetarians.  You win this round, hippie.
  • Bird poop is white due to their kidney’s extracting nitrogenous wastes from their bloodstream and subsequently excreting it in the form of uric acid, which has a very low solubility in water and emerges as a white paste-like substance.
  • Animals such as dogs, rabbits, rodents, gorillas, etc often eat their poop to maintain proper health.  For animals such as rabbits who eat a lot of plants, their poop contains quite a bit of undigested plant matter; so eating their poop is a nice easy way to get more out of the food they eat.  For some animals, their poop can be very vitamin rich with the bacteria in their intestines producing vitamins they wouldn’t get otherwise.  For animals such as dogs, poop can be a good source of these vitamins and protein.  This is why dogs are so fond of cat poop; it is very high in protein.  Pro-tip, cut down on how much you need to clean your cat litter by allowing dogs and vegetarians access to it.  The dogs/vegetarians get a lot of protein (in the latter case something they are deprived of due to their hippie ways)  and you never have to clean poop from the liter; it’s win/win.
  • The word “poop” comes from the onomatopoeia poupen or popen, which originally meant “fart”.  “Poop” came into its current meaning around 1900.
  • You can tell an amazing amount of information about a person based on their poop.  Extraterrestrial enthusiasts theorize this is why when Aliens abduct humans they go straight to anal probing.
  • In South Asia and South-east Asia, it is common to find showers in the toilet room for cleansing one’s self after pooping.
  • With Islam, post-pooping requires a ritual cleansing.  One should enter the toilet room with the left foot first; ritually cleanse your butt-hole with water using your left hand; then step out of the toilet room with your right foot first.  As an aside, in many Muslim countries, toilet rooms are considered “Houses of Satan”.
  • In India, rather than use toilet paper, it is typical to simply use your left hand.
  • If you think that is bad, in Ancient Rome, a wet sponge on a stick was used.  That sounds all well and fine until you find out that that after being used, the sponge was placed back in a tub of salt water to await the next person to come along and wipe with it.  Suddenly the “left hand” method isn’t sounding so bad.
  • About 3/4 of an average piece of poop is made of water.  Of the remaining 1/4, about 1/3 of it is dead bacteria from your intestines; another 1/3 is fibrous matter; the remaining amount is made up of fats, phosphates, living bacteria, dead cells, mucus, protein, etc.
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  • Mhadf

    But what happened to the white dog poo?

  • grif

    why are mexicans brown?

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  • Brandon M. Sergent

    I was under the impression that it was mainly spent blood cells. Blood being red, dried/dead blood/poo being brown.

    • Gnarl

      When RBCs get old their plasma membrane weakens and they are broken down by macrophages in the liver, spleen, lymph nodes, etc. The body always recycles useful resources when it can.

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  • Nice I think I am going to file that with fun party facts

  • Priss

    Sometimes green poop just means you had way too much purple colored drink the day before. Seriously. My kids drink grape kool-aid by the pitcher just to see their poops turn a vivid shade of green.

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  • kathy

    ewwww

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  • Lily

    That’s what used to happen in India ages ago. And of course, they use water and not just their left hand. And hand washing afterwards is always important to Indians.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Lily: depends on the part of India, but yes, water is important after. That little factoid came from my sister-in-law, who is Indian and up until a few years ago lived in India most of her life.

      • Mark

        Having been born and raised in India I can assure you they do not and nor have they ever “just used their left hand”. To write that is going to create a lot of very confused readers. They use water, and wash (customarily, but not necessarily) with their left hand. While I am sorely tempted to really let you know how silly and almost offensive your interpretation of Indian hygiene is (particularly when coupled with your next little factoid), I’ll leave it alone as I am sure you simply completely misunderstood what your sister-in-law said. I’m sure it was her accent.

        • Mark

          Wait…did I say “almost” offensive? Scratch that. I meant to say “completely” offensive. :o|

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Mark: The part that’s really going to get you, then, is that my sister in law was born and raised in India and only recently moved to the states (2 years ago). She works on this site, has read that article, and was the one that suggested that fact. 🙂

        • Vikas

          Totally agree to you Mark… there’s always water + hand. Though the culture is slowly moving toward toilet papers.

      • Benita

        Er…why don’t you like hippies? Should I stop reading this? Do you find me offensive? BTW, I have good personal hygiene, and I am a hippie.

        • Daven Hiskey

          @Benita: Just a joke :-). I actually lived for a good portion of my life in what is possibly today the hippie capital of the world: Bellingham, Washington (with perhaps Portland, Or edging it out for that title depending on who you talk to). Loved it in Bellingham. Most beautiful place on the planet in the summer. 🙂

  • EXPLAINIST

    “If you think that is bad, in Ancient Rome, a wet sponge on a stick was used. That sounds all well and fine until you find out that that after being used, the sponge was placed back in a tub of salt water to await the next person to come along and wipe with it.”

    If you asked another user to hand you the stick, he might hold it by the end of the handle and you got the “Shit end of the stick”

  • random

    My poop turns green when I drink an entire 2-liter of Mountain Dew voltage or Code Red and eat a lot of salty foods like ramen noodles, anything canned, or most things boxed. Such as Mac and Cheese.

  • David S.

    Drinking too much Jager equals black poop!

    • Sierra

      Black puke too lol

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  • George

    Indians use WATER along with the hand to cleanup. After that, they wash their hands. In olden days, they used to wash their hands later with water & ash or mud/soil when ash not available. Ash was aslo used to clean utensils. Though they might have known consciously, ash is a good adsorbent & filter to remove contaminants.

  • Marco

    Cheap American liquorice also makes your poop a bright green hue.
    I don’t know this for sure, but I suppose that the food coloring to make what is essentially a liquorice flavored candy black is indeed very concentrated green.
    Black coloring doesn’t exist in truth. Even in glass making black glass is usually a very deep purple, green or red/maroon.

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  • marie

    PEOPLE why is everyone so sensitive man you can’t even tell a joke these days!

  • Thatguy

    Read this on the toilet FTW

  • Anymous

    How dare you say that about Indians. We are well-sophisticated people and would never think about using our hand. I would advise you not to say such foul things in the future.

  • Parv gupta

    I accept that in India people do Clean their poop with their left hand but they make sure to clean their hand there after and they ensure proper hygiene by cleaning their hands with soap and also I accept that I have done so for almost 15 years and m 17 now I have a western style poop place
    It sounds really weird even to me when I thought what all this I have did BT test me it ist so wierd in actual and also its hygienic

  • jawnsin

    “”In India, rather than use toilet paper, it is typical to simply use your left hand”””.

    What nonsense !!!!!In India they wash their butts with water using their left hand and some soap clean it …

  • Freedom DeVitto

    Broccoli actually contains A LOT more protein than meat, so vegetarians are not at all deprived of proteins, to say the least.

    • Daven Hiskey

      @Freedom DeVitto: Broccoli has 2.8g of protein per 100g. For a few comparisons, chicken has about 27g of protein per 100g; hamburger has 17g of protein per 100g; pork has 22g of protein per 100g.

      • Julie

        “Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak and, per calorie, spinach is about equal to chicken and fish. Of course, you’ll need to eat a lot more broccoli and spinach to get the same amount of calories that you do from the meat. Multiple studies have shown that if you are meeting your caloric needs through plant-based nutrition, you will satisfy your body’s protein requirements.”
        http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/yes-plants-have-protein

        The obsession with getting enough animal protein is a leading contributor to the rise in chronic disease in the U.S (we the China Study, the Advetnist Health Study, among other research).

  • Richard

    interesting article, but all this dissing the vegetarians is just boring and immature… grow up!

  • dr fropchopula b.d.

    But does the pope poop in the woods?

  • TCOB

    Can you be any more condescending towards vegetarians?

    • Daven Hiskey

      @TCOB: Yes 😉

      • Julie

        Where do you think the beef you eat gets their protein from? They eat grass, hay, etc. pretty much vegetarians; and their protein requirement is way higher than yours. This whole idea that you have to eat animal protein to get ‘enough protein’ and be healthy is ridiculous.

        • Gilligan

          Cattle have four stomachs which is how they are able to process the grass and other vegetable matter they eat to extract all the nutrients. Human beings, for the most part, have only a single stomach. In order to extract nutrients from vegetable matter as efficiently as cattle do, vegetarians need to eat their poop like rabbits do.

        • Mike

          It’s all fine and dandy that you’re a vegetarian, just don’t come preaching it as better then eating meat. Meat will and always be the best source of protein and overall best for you. We’ve been eating it for thousands of years, look where we’re at now.

          • chevdo

            “Meat will and always be the best source of protein and overall best for you.”

            No, fish is the ultimate protein. Poultry is better than meat, but fish is better than poultry.

        • Justin Allen

          uuuum bison and other rooms are basically carnivores for dacterium. unlike humans and non rooms they have an enzym to break down backerium that can break down celulos in veg(humans cant) bison get 70% of cals from fat – do your research.

  • A Kumar

    My poop is very pale in colour for several years. Earlier, for many years my urine used to be dark brown, although, its near normal now. I have severe malabsorption for many years. Esp fat malabsorption. But, the doctor says my liver tests are normal.
    What do you think is wrong with me. I strongly suspect bile duct obstruction, but why are the tests not showing.

  • Chinmoy Mitra

    The comment “Seriously, try some bacon. It’s delicious” is uncalled for and also in bad taste. Author, please have some respect for the vegetarians and mend your ways of projecting your ideas to the public.

    • Jooe

      Completely agree.

  • Jooe

    What a shitty article. *no pun intended*

  • Lil

    In all the tumult regarding cultural differences in bathroom hygiene, a couple of major errors have gone unnoticed.

    The paragraph regarding birds is quite confused. You are correct about uric acid being the type of nitrogenous waste produced by the KIDNEYS of birds, which is a means of conserving water. But, umm, you seem to have forgotten that what comes from the kidneys is urine, NOT feces. Same as any other animal.

    Bird poop is actually similarly colored to anyone else’s, but it tends to be mixed in with the urates so may be partially hidden.

    Your comments on dogs, rodents and gorillas are equally inaccurate. Dogs and gorillas no more eat poop for health reasons than human babies do. It’s just something they like to do.

    As for rabbits, technically what they eat are cecotrophes, which is food that has been partially digested by the gut bacteria. Much like cows bringing up their cud and re-digesting it, rabbits re-ingest cecotrophes to send them for a second time through the gut for further digestion. They never eat their true feces.

    I recently discovered this site and have been reading with delight your fascinating articles, but the lack of research evident in this article calls into question the accuracy of those on subjects with which I’m less familiar. Maybe you were just having a bad day when you wrote this one…?