Why Poop Is Brown

Daven Hiskey 27
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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27 Comments »

  1. Mhadf April 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm - Reply

    But what happened to the white dog poo?

  2. grif April 9, 2010 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    why are mexicans brown?

  3. Brandon M. Sergent April 25, 2010 at 1:55 am - Reply

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

  4. Ginny Whited December 9, 2010 at 9:04 am - Reply

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

  5. Priss January 31, 2011 at 7:07 am - Reply

    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.

  6. kathy September 14, 2012 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    ewwww

  7. Lily May 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    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
      Daven Hiskey May 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      @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 September 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm - Reply

        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 September 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm - Reply

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

        • Daven Hiskey
          Daven Hiskey September 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm - Reply

          @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. :-)

      • Benita January 22, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

        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
          Daven Hiskey January 22, 2014 at 3:09 pm - Reply

          @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. :-)

  8. EXPLAINIST July 4, 2013 at 7:18 am - Reply

    “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”

  9. random July 29, 2013 at 12:28 am - Reply

    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.

  10. David S. August 13, 2013 at 2:55 am - Reply

    Drinking too much Jager equals black poop!

    • Sierra November 7, 2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

      Black puke too lol

  11. George January 22, 2014 at 6:49 am - Reply

    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.

  12. Marco January 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    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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