Digestion is the process whereby our body converts the energy from our food sources to an energy source that we can utilize. Food goes through hundreds of enzymatic reactions to get to the endpoint of energy (ATP) for use. If there is a break down in the process at any step, then illness or disease can result. Gastric acid and pancreatic enzymes aid in the digestive process and help maintain the integrity of the digestive system and aid in the absorption of nutrients from our foods through the intestinal barrier which is the gateway between the outside environment and inside the body.
The intestinal epithelial cells are a one cell thick lining that the intestines utilizes to control what is allowed to enter the body from the outside environment by maintaining a “tight junction” between these cells, allowing only nutrients in that are meant to be used by the body and keeping out harmful macromolecules and bacteria.
Leaky Gut Syndrome can best be described as an increased permeability of the tight junctions that somehow has lost some of its regulatory control allowing large particles that were once forbidden from entry to now enter the body due to damage of the mucosa.
This “leakiness” can be a result of alcohol consumption, NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) use, viral, bacterial, yeast, and protozoan infections, and even failure to maintain the proper gastric pH or in producing sufficient pancreatic enzymes.
Chronic oxidative stress, poor quality foods, and cytotoxic drugs will produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which will also contribute to increasing intestinal permeability