Bowel movements can reveal a shocking amount of information about a person’s health. Pale, white, or clay-colored stool often indicates that there is an issue with the biliary system. Pigments within bile give stools their traditional brown coloration, so a lack of bile results in less color. While some of the causes of clay-colored stools are not dangerous, many require medical attention.

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1. Primary Biliary Cholangitis

The liver produces bile, which helps with digestion and allows the body to get rid of cholesterol, old red blood cells, and various toxins. Primary biliary cholangitis or biliary cirrhosis is a chronic autoimmune disease involving the destruction of the bile ducts in the liver. This causes bile to back up, scarring the liver and giving stools a pale or clay color.

physician pointing liver model Shidlovski / Getty Images
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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.