A Dream Come True: Rise Up and Walk Again

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

If you’re ever in an accident that renders you incapable of feeling your legs, probably one of the hardest come-to-reckoning blows you’ll get is realizing you’ll never walk again. But now, Japanese inventors have found a way to tap weak signals in the brain and harness them with the aid of an exoskeleton suit worn by paralyzed patients.

 

Walk

 

This suit then translates these signals to help the patients robotically move their limbs. According to BBC, scientists are hoping that with training, the movement will rebuild damaged synaptic connections from paralyzed patient’s brains to their limbs.

It’s always stunning whenever I hear about another discovery that scientists have made about the synaptic nerve system in our bodies. In so many ways, this microscopic highway of neurons resemble electrical train tracks that literally run to every cell in our body, to keep our body processes going.

While accidents that cause paralysis in our limbs are the most visible examples of what happens when this neuron train runs off-track or is broken, there are other synapses breaks that can occur in an ever-so-subtle fashion that you only notice over time. For example, did you know that chronic stress can wear down the synapses responsible for memory storage and processing in your brain?

This is due to elevated cortisol levels that occur in response to stress, which in turn affect your memory when the synapses in your prefrontal cortex — the brain region responsible for short-term memory — shrink.

Likewise, sleep deprivation can cause disruption of certain synaptic connections that, again, can impair your brain’s ability for learning, memory formation and other cognitive functions. This is one reason why Alzheimer’s researchers are interested in studying how poor sleep can accelerate onset of the disease.

Most adults, by the way, need seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Deep sleep is the most important, as this is when your brain's glymphatic system performs its cleanout functions, eliminating toxic waste from your brain, including amyloid beta, which are critically involved in Alzheimer’s progression.

The good news that ties today’s featured article together with my two examples is that your brain has a natural capacity for regeneration and rejuvenation. In other words, your brain WANTS to get those neurons back on track, no matter how weak the train is.

The other good news is that you don’t need a robotic suit to put many of these internal trains back on their tracks, in regard to brain activity related to memory processes. Specifically, recent research shows that a ketogenic diet can act like an internal robotic suit to improve neurovascular integrity and function between your gut and brain, thereby clearing it of amyloid-beta, in part by improving the gut microbiome.

More specifically, poor neurovascular function is strongly associated with loss of language, memory and attention, while reduced cerebral blood flow raises your risk for depression, anxiety and dementia. Impaired blood-brain barrier function has also been linked to brain inflammation, dysfunction of synapses, impaired clearance of amyloid-beta plaques, psychiatric disorders and dementia — and an improved gut microbiome has been shown to help repair these synapses.

For more information on how beneficial gut bacteria and a ketogenic diet can improve synaptic and neurovascular function, please see my article, “Ketogenic Diet Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease by Keeping Your Brain Healthy and Youthful.”

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