People generally don't consult a doctor immediately for changed bowel movements. They don't like to discuss stool form and color. But persistent bowel movement problem is associated with significant impairment of digestive function, and the condition needs prompt medical attention. Some people have bowel movements 3 times a week while some have 3 times a day. It is generally considered as normal bowel movement if the person does not suffer from constipation or diarrhea, and the fecal matter passes out of the body softly and easily. Due to dietary changes, or change in eating habits, people experience problems like harder or softer stools. Normally, the color of stool is brown or golden brown. Green or black stools, and loose stools indicate digestion problem.
Importance of Colonic Transit Time
When you eat, food passes through various parts of the digestive system slowly. Stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, duodenum, small and large intestines, and rectum are all parts of the digestive system. Various acids, enzymes produced by these organs are mixed in the food. The food is broken into small pieces, and is converted into an easily digestible substance. The essential nutrients are absorbed by the body while the food passes through these parts.
The first part of the colon which is connected with the small intestine is known as caecum. The portion between the caecum and rectum is referred to as colon which is divided into four parts, ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid colon. Colon function includes holding waste products and reabsorbing water from wastes to preserve water balance in the body. Many friendly bacteria grow in the colon, and help enhance the process of digestion. They play an important role in curbing the growth of harmful bacteria. They help convert undigested food materials into easily passable stools. When the food is completely digested, and when it moves forward through the colon, it changes its form, and acquires dark brown color.
Passing dark green stools suggests that the food must have moved through the colon very quickly. As the stool was in the colon for a shorter period of time, there was no time for 'color change procedure' to take place. This is often referred to as "rapid transit" or "decreased colonic transit time". When the food passes through the intestines quickly, bile cannot break it down completely. Stools turn golden brown because of bile. Bile, a green colored fluid produced by the liver, plays an important role in digestion of fats and in processing of fat soluble vitamins. While passing through the colon, color of bile changes to yellow and brown. Therefore green stool can be a cause of concern. Many people experience green diarrhea as a result of rapid intestinal transit.
Excessive consumption of green vegetables may lead to green bowel movement which is considered as normal. Intake of some medications, supplements, or food poisoning may result in green stools. Children sometimes eat chalks or wax colors. In that case, green stool may be noticed. In most cases, green stools indicate dysfunction of colon.
Colon Problems: Colon or large intestine problems occur mainly due to collection of toxic waste materials in the colon. This can affect the process of absorption of crucial nutrients. Excessive use of alcohol, laxatives, medicines, and supplements can lead to colon problems.
Stomach Problems: Some stomach problems can cause rapid transit of food, for example, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, cancer, and the like.
Wrong Diet: Unhealthy lifestyle and wrong diet are the main causes of impaired colon function. Eating junk food, highly processed food, and canned food can impair the colon function. Similarly, not eating at regular intervals, late night eating, overeating, eating heavy foods (rich in fat), can disrupt the digestive system function. Bulkier stool passes easily through colon and rectum. Increasing the intake of dietary fiber is essential to make the stool bulkier. A well-balanced high fiber diet that contains lots of fruits and vegetables is necessary for proper functioning of the digestive system. This can improves your overall health.
You may keep a high fiber foods list always handy, and may incorporate those food items in your diet. You would notice an improvement in the bowel transit time within a few days. Periodical colon cleanse can help improve colon health. For mild symptoms of rapid transit through small intestine and colon, you may rely on dietary alterations and lifestyle changes, but for severe symptoms, you should consult a physician.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.