Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Plant Sciences, Zoology & Evolution => Topic started by: neilep on 03/02/2007 23:06:56

Title: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 03/02/2007 23:06:56
Dearest peeps Of Sagacious Wit and Science Niceness and Sharing Your Knowledge Luff !!

This is a nice selection of Bell Peppers:

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Nice aren't they ?..yes they are !!

What I want to know is that....besides my wifey who farts like an old steam train chuffer-chuffing !!!!...why do I often get gassy luff released when I cut into a bell peppers !! ?..That is....released from the pepper itself I mean !

Does it mean that the pepper is off  ?..cos on close inspection...Pepper looks and tastes fine !!

Hugs & shmishes

xxxx mwah mwah mwah mwah !!

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: Hadrian on 03/02/2007 23:32:49

thEy Pep up you ... too!  LOL  [;D]

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 04/02/2007 06:10:20
So my understanding of the digestive side of things is that the sugar compounds that are difficult to break down during digestion are the products that contribute to buildup of flatulence.  The compounds make it to the large intestine and the bacteria living there get a feast.  When the bacteria are breaking down these complex sugar compounds they release waste materials including gasses that we have to get rid of somehow and when enough of them build up . . well, it has to go somewhere.

OK, so that's why we get gas but why do eating some plants cause gas while others don't?

When plants are in sunlight they are harvesting the sun's energy, but they need to convert that energy into something stable that they can transport to parts of the plant that aren't able to do photosynthesis (roots, seeds, new leaves) and to save it for a rainy day.  They harvest the energy by fixing and reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) – they take in CO2, add sunlight and make sugars (which is why destruction of rainforests can have a huge effect on global warming- not only does burning trees release all the CO2 they have fixed for years back into the atmosphere at once, it also reduces the number of plants that can take the CO2 already in the atmosphere back out).
 Plants put the carbon from CO2 into sugars.   They can't keep all the sugars just as simple glucose molecules (because the osmotic pressure would rupture the cells) so they put them into long chains.

One long chain that is used by many plants for storage of sugars is starch.  Starch is made by not only sticking the sugars together end to end to form a long chain (amylose), but sugars are also stuck on so they branch out into chains (amylopectin).

[diagram=120_0]            [diagram=121_0]
Amylose                                                              Amylopectin

 Amylose, the one that forms long strings of sugars, can pack tightly together and therefore enzymes in our digestive track have a hard time getting in there and breaking it down.  Therefore amylose makes it into the large intestine where those gas producing bacteria get a chance to work on it.   Amylopectin, with its branches, can't pack down as tightly, and has many ends for our enzymes to get started on- so we can break it down easier before it reaches the gassy bacteria.  How much sugar goes into each type of starch depends on the type of plant.   Most cereals, especially rice have a high amylopectin content and are therefore easily digested without much gas production.   Tubers and legumes tend to have more amylose.  I can not find the amylose content of peppers, but my guess is that if this is a factor it has to do with cooking.  Cooking your food will help break down the starch- it will separate out the strands of amylose and amylopectin and water molecules will get trapped inside.  This opening up of the starch also makes it easier for enzymes to get in there and digest it.  So one possibility is that you are eating your peppers raw, or lightly cooked, if this is the case, you can cook them a bit longer and this might help.   

An interesting side note . . .   
 When starch grains are heated in water they attach to the water, absorbing it into the chains, when they cool the water is locked into the chains and you get a thick gooey mess- if you add sugar and flavoring during the process this would be called pudding. 
Now, if you stick pudding in the freezer (or refrigerator for a long time) the starch will pack up again forming crystals and become a pretty gross sight, but you can fix this by reheating the pudding.  A similar thing happens to bread.  The starches absorb water during baking, but when the bread cools, the starch molecules form tighter and tighter crystals over time, and thus the bread becomes hard and stale.  However, if you reheat the bread in the presence of a bit of water it will regain its flexibility and taste fresh again.

Plants also can use sugars as a protectant against water loss.  For example, when some plants are exposed to drought or low temperatures they increase the amount of raffinose (a combination of three sugar molecules) in their tissue.  Raffinose helps to hold on the the water molecules that are in the plant and keep them from being lost to the outside of the plant.  Raffinose is notoriously hard to digest it requires an enzyme called alpha galactosides which we don't produce.  However, the bugs in our gut do- and they love raffinose- it is a good source of energy for them so they get very active (and gas producing) when it is available.  Raffinose is present in high levels in beans, brussel sprouts (gross- who'd eat those nasty things anyway), and broccoli.  The sweet taste from peppers also comes from raffinose so this could also be the source of your er “air.”   I don't know the total level of raffinose in peppers, but it is interesting that peppers are fairly drought resistant- just a thought  - but one possibility is that they accumulate more raffinose and this is why- I wonder if anyone has looked into that. . . .

I don't know any way to avoid gas caused by raffinose.  “Bean-no” the product you take to avoid gas is the enzyme alpha galactosidase but in looking up this I read several times that it isn't more effective than a placebo. . . does someone else know if there is any effectiveness in taking this?

One more rant that is close to but not exactly on the topic. . .

  Depending on the type of plant, about a third of the sugar pool goes into making cell walls.  For example, cellulose is a major component of cell walls.  Cellulose is basically glucose molecules linked together to make a long chain.  However, they are linked in such a way that we don't have the enzymes in our bodies to break them apart.  Even the bacteria in our gut can't digest cellulose, so it goes through us in long chains.  Only termites have the bacteria that can digest cellulose.  Cellulose and similar long chains that we can't break apart form the fiber we need in our diet to help keep things ummm- running smoothly.   Fiber that is composed mostly of cellulose is considered insoluble and goes right through without producing much gas.  However there are insoluble fibers which are composed of other cell wall components, and these the little fellas in the gut can work on and these produce a lot of gas- again, beans have a large amount of insoluble fiber. 

And a final rant completely off topic . .

Cellulose is actually the biggest component of biomass on the earth.  And therefore it is often talked about as an important source for biofuels.  The idea being that if we can use cellulose efficiently for fuel we could harvest crops that take the carbon dioxide out of the air and put it into cellulose, use the cellulose for fuel, putting the carbon dioxide back into the air and regrow the crops the next year taking the carbon dioxide back out.  As opposed to what we do now by burning fossil fuels- which is put the carbon dioxide in the air that was taken out millions of years ago.  It would be a good step in the right direction if it works.

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: Karen W. on 04/02/2007 08:41:07
 I did not know any of that! Thats very interesting.. Nice piccy.. Neil, they look beautifully appetizing!!
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 04/02/2007 17:32:59

FANTASTIC !!...though..*le sigh* ..I feel rotten because after your most excellent and most wonderful answer, the question I asked (very poorly)was why does gas escape from the Pepper when I cut into a Pepper ?..not ..why does consuming peppers make me bottom burp ?

I realize the way I asked the question  was ambiguous but do you see what I mean.

However.....what you have in done is answer my follow on question before I have asked i !! even being here long you have somehow mastered this site...YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 04/02/2007 21:45:31
Hee Hee,
 Whoops I was way off on that one, eh?
Sorry didn't understand the question quite right, I understand now.

I guess my mind was just drifting in the general direction these things usually go and I read into your question.

The question I answered about the gas coming out of you was a bit easier than why the gas comes out of the pepper.

So do only the green peppers give off gas?
Or is it all colours of peppers?

If it is just the green, I would think it has to do with the permeability of the skin.
Peppers are still alive after they have been harvested.  The skin of the pepper fruit is
highly permeable to CO2, but not to oxygen (about 10 fold difference).  So the green peppers can take in CO2 and energy from light and make sugar for the developing seeds, giving off oxygen as a waste product.  Since they release oxygen so much more slowly from the fruit it might build up until you open it. 

You could test this at home, buy two green peppers and two red peppers, put one of each in the sun and one each in a dark place (but NOT in a paper bag- or near other fruits or veggies).  After a couple of days cut them open.  If only the green one in the sun has more gas, then this maybe the explanation.  This could be compounded by the waxes that are used to cover peppers to protect them from water loss.  I think most of these are permeable to most gasses, but maybe depending on the type of wax used it could have some effect.

If it isn't just green peppers, I'm not sure what it could be.
Other fruits give off ethylene, a hormone, in the form of a gas as a signal to promote ripening.  However, pepper fruits don't produce much ethylene, they get theirs from the parent plant.  So we can eliminate ethylene as the source of the swelling- unless you are storing them in a paper bag or near other ripening plants that could be giving off ethylene. 

Another possibility might be water absorption.  After harvest, to keep the peppers happy and good looking they keep them in highly humid environments.  In this environment maybe the peppers suck up a lot of water and the tissue inside the seed cavity swells, the swelling tissue may compress the air inside.  If you open it before it has a chance to dry down a bit, it would then "pop" to relieve this pressure.  This would be harder to test, we would have to harvest peppers at the same time and keep one in a highly humid environment and compare it to one that is kept at normal humidity. 

Try the green pepper/sunlight experiment, I'll try it here too next time I go to the store (IF it ever get sunny here again).  Meanwhile, I'll ask around and see if I can find the correct answer. 

And when you do eat the peppers you are experimenting with. . . and you wonder why you're feeling a bit gassy, you won't even have to ask that question.

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 04/02/2007 22:22:46
YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !! is forcing the WylieE to write lots and lots !!....

Me will do the pepper sun experiment...because I am a firm believer in empirical study ! just hopes it will coincide with some sun luff when me procures the Peppers fro my local Peppers-R-Us store.

Your explanation seems very rational and true. me is sure ewe is right.

Thank ewe for your time and effort

Look out for more plant related question tomfoolery..YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!

In the mean time...if you do come across another explanation then me looks forward to reading it here as well as hopefully
the results of out experiments.

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 05/02/2007 01:10:03
 But while rational might convince us, we'll have to wait and see what the peppers actually do. 
Do you ever see this with Red peppers (or yellow or orange)?  If so, my explanation doesn't hold gas.
I kinda know what you are talking about and think I remember seeing a pepper do this a time or two, but I can't remember if it was red or green (or maybe even a hot pepper) or if it was on the verge of being no good (and bacteria were once again the culprit). 
It is a very interesting question, I can't wait to see what the right answer is.

And yes, you are making me write a lot, that is good for procrastination, thanks.

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 05/02/2007 01:44:44

I am pleased that your procrastinations  are subject to their own  procrastination whilst ewe endeavor to address my questions.  [;)]

At the time when I enjoyed a gassy gift from a was only a green one that I was using.

I will seek out the other hues and tones and hopefully an answer will be forthcoming.

Thanks WylieE  [:)]
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 10/02/2007 05:07:16
Hi Neil,
  I just got back from the store with 7 peppers for the experiment, three green, two red, and two yellow (because they looked like they were going to explode any second).  Unfortunately, no sunshine here, but I'll put one each in the growth chamber (24h light) tomorrow and let them sit there for at least the weekend. . .
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 10/02/2007 20:40:02
Hi Neil,
  I just got back from the store with 7 peppers for the experiment, three green, two red, and two yellow (because they looked like they were going to explode any second).  Unfortunately, no sunshine here, but I'll put one each in the growth chamber (24h light) tomorrow and let them sit there for at least the weekend. . .

Oh My !!!!....AMAZING !!....such wonderful dedication...THANK YOU so much Colleen.

Unfortunately I have not been able to acquire such wonderful multi-coloured pepper luff !...but that's because I just haven't been food shopping !!..and like you...sunlight is playing hide 'n' seek at the moment

Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: chris on 11/02/2007 22:52:19
Colleen - please can you take some photographs of your pepper-exploits please?!
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 12/02/2007 07:41:46
 I was going to suprise Neil with a link but . . .
 I am having trouble with the pictures, so I'll figure out what's going on there first before I post any more.  Yes, I am documenting all pepper exploits and when I figure out how to post my green pepper pictures without them turning blue, I will put the whole story here:
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: neilep on 12/02/2007 18:27:28

Colleen.....ewe is the ace !!!

Hugs the WylieE
Title: Re: Bell Pepper Gassy Luff .......!!!
Post by: WylieE on 12/02/2007 23:05:28
Awww, thanks. . .