ibs 2The term GAGS is a shortened way of saying glycosaminoglycans, which are long molecules composed of sugar molecules (if a sugar molecule is a train car, GAGS are the train). Most of the GAGS in the body are used to form Proteoglycans, which are very important to structure. Proteoglycans are very important for the formation of cartilage. Perhaps the best-know proteoglycan is chondroitan sulfate. These molecules are not only important for joint cartilage, they help give form and structure to all areas of the body–including the intestines. Proteoglycans help form what is known as the basement membrane. The basement membrane acts as an anchor to the epithelium of the intestine. The epithelium are the cells that provide the functionality of digestion; the basement membrane attaches to cartilage and to the epithelial cells and helps give the intestine form and structure. An article appearing in The Lancet (March 20, 1993;341:730- 731) discusses the fact that the glycosaminoglycans are altered in chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Bacteria, viruses, antigens and oxidative stress challenge the structural integrity of the intestine, glycosaminoglycans help protect against these challenges and help reduce intestinal permeability (leaky gut).