ENTERAL NUTRITION IS PREFERRED FOR THE GUT
The following image shows intestinal mucosa in the ‘fed’ state. EN delivers nutrients and attracts blood flow to the gut; this stimulates the growth of the intestinal mucosal cells and maintains gut integrity. Gut integrity prevents bacterial translocation (when bacteria move from the GI tract into the bloodstream because the mucosal barrier is not functional or is weak), and reduces the risk of sepsis.
The bottom image shows the consequences of not using the gut. The intestinal villi have atrophied and their surface area for digestion and absorption is reduced. The junctions in the mucosal barrier have become less ‘tight’ and bacteria can pass through them, i.e. translocate through the gut wall.8,9