What the colour and form of our stools reveal

It is worth taking a look at your own excrements. Based on their colour, form and smell, you can learn a lot about your own health.


Gabriela Braun

Is your own digestion behaving normally? Are black stools a cause for concern? Why it is worthwhile to take a look at our excrements every now and then. Based on simple criteria, you can find out how your body is doing at the moment. The most important information in this regard. 

Shape and consistency of stools

Are your stools lumpy or sausage-shaped, what is considered healthy? And what does a fibre-rich diet have to do with this? 

1. Pellet-shaped stools that are difficult to pass 

You are suffering from constipation. Your body is lacking fluid. Perhaps you have eaten insoluble fibres such as cereals or legumes.

2. Sausage-like excrement, lumpy sausages  

Fluid is also lacking here. Make sure that you drink enough. 

3. Sausage-shaped with cracks 

Everything is in the normal range.

4. Sausage-shaped and smooth 

Here too: everything is as it should be.

5. Soft, smooth-edged lumps 

This is perfectly fine if you have to go to the toilet several times a day.

6. Liquid, without solid components 

Diarrhoea. Your body is losing a lot of water. Make sure to drink enough. A doctor's visit is only advisable if the diarrhoea lasts longer than three days, is very severe or is accompanied by abdominal pain or fever.

7. Soft lumps with an irregular edge 

After an especially high-fat meal, the body excretes undigested dietary fats and oils. This may be a possible cause of soft stools. Should you regularly experience this kind of bowel movement, you should have your bile and pancreas examined by a doctor.

What does the colour of our stools say about our bowl movements?

Normally, our stools should be light brown to dark brown in colour. Changes in colour can be related to our diet. In some cases, however, such changes can also point to illnesses. About the various colours of our stools and their possible meaning.

1. Brown  

All good. The brown colour is caused by our brownish digestive juices.

2. Black or dark brown  

A very dark colour can point to bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. However, our diet also plays a role: beetroot, spinach, dark chocolate and coal or iron preparations can darken our stools.

3. Green

Green vegetables are often responsible here. Green diarrhoea, on the other hand, indicates an intestinal infection.

4. Red

If you have eaten beetroot or cranberries, there is no need to worry. Otherwise, it is likely to be blood: you should go to your doctor immediately.

5. Grey or clay-coloured 

Be careful, this indicates a lack of digestive juices. You may be having problems with your bile. See a doctor.

6. Yellow

Have you eaten a lot of carrots? In connection with diarrhoea, however, a yellow colour points to an intestinal infection. Is your excrement also greasy and smelly and does it float on the surface of the water? This may indicate problems with your pancreas. Go to your doctor.

The smell

Should your excrements smell foul or acrid over a period of several days, this may indicate an inflammation of the pancreas. Have the cause clarified by a doctor.


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