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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Did you know..

if your toddler eats a lot of cherries, say from the Clovis Farmers Market, it turns their poop bright green??

It's a fact!


Jessica said...


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I can think of only one physiological mechanism by which plain cherries would turn a little kid's poop green, and it would only work in really little kids. Cherries contain a fair amount of sorbitol, a poorly-digestible sugar-like substance that's also found in prune juice. If a kid consumes a lot of it, it's going to make his/her intestinal contents come out the other end really quickly, and one of the substances found in the intestinal contents (biliverdin, secreted in bile) starts out green but, with time, tends to turn brown. If "with time" is seriously shortened, the result will be green. It will also be extremely watery and runny.

A much more common cause of bright green poop is the ingestion of blue or green food coloring (green food coloring is actually a mixture of blue and yellow food coloring; purple or black food coloring is a mixture of red and blue. Poop contains so much yellow as a result of transformation of biliverdin into urobilinogen that blue almost always looks green). Neither of them are absorbed or digested; they just come out the other end unchanged (young boys get a real kick out of discovering this).

So if your kid's poop was solid, it was probably something other than the cherries. If it was runny, it could have been the cherries speeding everything up (older boys who participate in cherry-eating contests usually understand that they'll get diarrhea afterwards because of all the sorbitol).

By the way, there are *no* serious disease whose symptoms involve green poop. Black poop with a coffee-ground appearance is a bad sign (indicates internal bleeding). So is white poop (indicates that bile pigments produced by the liver aren't making it into the intestines. But green/blue poop merely means that the kid ate something green or blue and it passed through unchanged (for that matter, the natural coloring of beets also passes through unchanged, and in fact some parents persuade their kids to eat beets by telling them that they'll turn their poop red or purple (most kids *have* to try that). This usually happens during a period when the kid's brain isn't developed enough to form long-term memories, so when he grows up and eats beets, he gets worried that he's bleeding, with results that are in retrospect rather amusing).