Should You Be Worried About Tan Colored Stools? - Call Us for Relief In Chico California at 530-899-8741

Patients often ask us if tan colored stools are normal? The simple answer is no.

"Bile emusifies fat, breaking it down into smaller, more easily digestible gobules so it can be absorbed into the body."

Tan Colored Stools - Scientific - Liver, Bile Duct Gall Bladder,pancreatitis,cirrhosis,gall stones,Yellow Skin (Jaundice)

Bile which is made in the liver and stored and secreted by the gallbladder gives stools their normal brown color.

In a healthy functioning digestive system, normal stools should be brown colored (similar to a milk chocolate candy bar), not tan colored stools and not pale colored stools.  Stools derive their normal brown color from bile pigments. Bile is a detergent-like fluid made by the liver, and released by the gallbladder. 

Bile emulsifies fat, breaking it down into smaller, more easily digestible globules so it can be absorbed into the body. You may be familiar with the process of emulsification that occurs when we use dish washing detergent to wash greasy dishes. Without detergent it's much more difficult to clean a dish full of ribs or cheese enchiladas. When your poop is tan colored, or stool is pale, it's a sign that not enough bile is being delivered to your small intestine. Inadequate flow of bile into the intestine is like trying to wash a plate of ribs or cheese enchiladas without detergent.  Without adequate amounts of bile, you can not digest the fats in your food because your body cannot break the fat into small globules. Inadequate amounts of bile also creates problems with digesting your protein and carbohydrates. That's because the fat coats all your food, not just fatty foods. When fat coats your food and forms a greasy layer around food, your own digestive enzymes cannot get access to break down the food  to digest it. Often this will result in symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or bloating after eating, and may produce constipation or diarrhea.

Tan colored stools  and tan colored poop are a warning sign that the billiary system, your liver, gallbladder and bile ducts are not functioning properly.  There may be an obstruction in the ducts.  Gallstones, or more commonly, sludge in the ducts that prevents the flow of bile. Many patients also experience back pain and indigestion when they are having problems with the gallbladder. 

Tan colored stools may be a sign that your stomach is not producing enough stomach acid, as stomach acid is one of the factors that determines how much bile is released by your gallbladder. Tan colored poops often accompany an intolerance to fat, and a deficiency in the enzyme lipase, which  digests fat. Poor fat digestion can lead to problems such as hormonal imbalances, dry skin, and poor immune function.

tan colored stools, poop color, pancreatitis,cirrhosis,gall stones,Yellow Skin (Jaundice)

This is an image of a gallstone that one of our patients passed after doing a gallbladder flush. 

While obstructions are usually addressed by surgery, gallstones and billiary sludge may be dissolved by dietary changes, along with specialized supplements to support the liver and thin the bile. If  your stool is frequently tan colored, it’s time to take action to prevent more serious health issues.  If you are not digesting your food well, or you are not a "fan of tan", take our quiz and call us at 530-899-8741 to schedule an initial appointment  to find out how you can put your digestive system back on track again.  Sacramento Valley patients can visit our office in Chico, California and out of town patients may call for a telephone appointment.

For more on what the color of your stool can tell you about your health, and a chart of normal and abnormal stool colors click here. If have more questions about  pale stools, you may want to check this link 10 Questions About Tan Colored Stools Answered.

Yours in health,

Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS

Thanks for reading. Our goal is to help as many people as possible. If you know someone who might benefit from this, please forward it.  Serving the Chico, Redding, the Sacramento Valley, and Northern California.

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