Several factors can cause fecal matter to turn green. Green bowel movements can be attributed to the foods we eat, the medications we take, or a serious digestive disorder. It should be noted that any change in stool color should be reported to a physician and investigated.
Food and Diet
Many foods that we routinely consume can cause green feces. It should be noted that these foods should only cause change in stool color if eaten in large quantities. Green vegetables such as lettuce, peas and cabbage are example of foods that can cause green stools if eaten in large quantities. Foods that are artificially colored such as sherbet, Jello and Popsicles can also change stool color. Black licorice, if eaten in large quantities, can affect stool color. In addition, foods that are rich in iron such as beans and red meat can also contribute to green feces.
Several medications and vitamin supplements can also lead to green stools. Individuals who routinely take laxatives, iron supplements, medicines and vitamins containing cholorophyll, and any medication or vitamin that contain fructose can experience green bowel movements. Stool color should return to normal once use of these products is discontinued.
Green bowel movements are directly related to colonic transit time. This simply means the time it takes for food to be excreted from the body once it enters the intestine. Food is green when it enters the intestine, as it travels through the intestine, it absorbs fats and vitamins which give the stool its common brown color. If food travels through the intestine too rapidly, it fails to absorb these fats and vitamins and maintains its green color. Irritable bowel syndrome, Chron's disease, and colitis are some digestive disorders in which green feces is common.