Brush border enzymes are embedded in the tiny microvilli of the small intestine.
The small intestine, with a surface area of roughly 250 square meters (think, tennis court), is where much of the digestive action in your gut takes place. On the absorptive surface, small villi or mucosal finger-like projections protrude into the lumen of the small intestine.
These villi are made of epithelial cells that are covered with microvilli and make up a fuzzy fringe, known as brush border cells. Brush border enzymes are the enzymes found on the brush border of the small intestine. These are:
Brush border enzymes can be effective in digesting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats without causing irritation of the intestinal walls. The intestinal walls are often irritated in those with intestinal permeability.
The space in between the epithelial cells of the small intestine is called a tight junction.
When a large protein like gliadin from wheat gluten or an antigen passes through a broken tight junction, the immune system goes into action, and the gut becomes inflamed. This is one way that a permeable gut develops. When the epithelial cells themselves are damaged, large molecules will also pass through the gut lining transcellularly, or through the cell itself. This is another form of what is known as permeable gut.
Whether the gut becomes permeable from Candida that has set down roots through the small intestines or from damaged epithelial cells, oftentimes pathogenic bacteria can overpopulate the area, causing gut dysbiosis.
Intestinal inflammation and impaired digestive function is in part related to loss of brush border enzymes.
Bacterial overgrowth in the gut can cause malnutrition! It is critical to repair gut permeability by avoiding foods that cause inflammation.
Studies have shown that villous atrophy, or damage to the villi and microvilli in the small intestine, is associated with decreased activity of digestive enzymes. Likewise, overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria will negatively affect brush border enzyme activity, decrease the brush border itself, and damage this very delicate and important "fuzzy fringe."
Under normal conditions, intestinal epithelium cells have one of the fastest rates of reproduction of any tissue in the body.
New epithelium is generated every 3-6 days. Therefore, providing proper nourishment to the cells of the small intestine is essential when healing the lining of the gut.
Glutamine is the most important nutrient that you can give to your body to support the repair of the intestinal lining. It is the preferred fuel and nitrogen source for the small intestine. Studies have shown that glutamine supports the regeneration and repair of the intestinal epithelia.
Repairing intestinal permeability is about avoiding foods that create inflammation and making sure that your gut epithelial cells have what they need to restore balance.
Intestinal permeability is a complex circuit of cause and effect. Healing the inner lining of the gut means addressing several layers at once. Reducing the inflammatory immune response is key, and this can only be done once the intestinal epithelia are healthy.