Got brain drain? Trade your keyboard for a pen

handwriting improves brain health copy

Do your fingers whir across the keyboard, but your brain is left in the dust? One small but effective way to improve brain health is as simple as putting a pen to paper for a little bit each day. Research shows that although keyboards make writing fast and easy, they also make for sloppier brain function compared to handwriting.

Handwriting has been phased out of everyday life and school curriculums. Studies show many people can’t remember the last time they had to write something by hand and many children don’t know how to properly hold a pen or pencil because it’s barely taught in school.

This is bad news for our brains, say experts. The reason it takes children several years to learn how to write is because writing requires so many different areas of the brain to work simultaneously, enhancing development.

Likewise, college students who take notes by hand understand the material better than computer note takers. Note taking by hand requires more focus and discernment, enhancing memory, while taking notes on a laptop note can turn into mindless transcription.

In fact, taking notes by computer actually impairs the learning process while handwriting enhances it, thanks to the motor skills involved.

Why handwriting is better for the brain

Neuroscience has discovered a variety of reasons why handwriting is better for the brain than typing.

  • It activates learning pathways in the brain.
  • It stimulates more ideas and creativity.
  • Cursive writing can help remedy dyslexia.
  • Taking notes by hand improves memory.
  • A handwritten piece has more personality than something type written, thus improving human connection.
  • Handwriting involves fine motor skills that involve more areas of the brain in the learning process.

Perhaps those missing out most on the neurological benefits of handwriting are the children who barely learn it. Cursive writing is largely no longer being taught and keyboard proficiency takes precedence over writing after first grade.

Brain scans of children learning letters through writing versus through typing showed writing activates various parts of the brain while typing hardly activates it at all. In other words, those messy first stabs at writing that gradually improve with practice are building neurological foundations that make learning easier and more enduring.

Handwriting improves overall health

Because it boosts brain function, handwriting can improve your health. You can further supercharge the benefits of handwriting based on what you write about  Using specific journaling practices will not only give you the benefits of handwriting but the content of your writing can help you better manage your health. Look what studies below show.

  • Writing down your thoughts and feelings can make your wounds heal faster.
  • Writing 20 minutes a day improves quality of life for patients with cancer.
  • People who keep a gratitude journal are more optimistic and exercise more.
  • Writing down what you’re grateful for at night can improve sleep.
  • Expressive writing has been shown to improve mental and physical well-being.

Whether you keep a gratitude journal, take class notes by hand, or commit to regularly writing an older relative handwritten letters, handwriting is a small but effective way to boost your quality of life.

Boost anti-aging and brain function with PQQ

PQQ

By now you’ve probably heard of CoQ10 and it’s anti-aging potential. The newest discovery in the anti-aging world is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone). PQQ works inside your cells like CoQ10 by defending them from damage. But what sets PQQ apart is that it can also energize your cells so they function better. This is done by PQQ’s ability to enhance mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria are tiny compartments inside the body’s cells that are often referred to as the cell’s batteries or energy factories. Just as low battery power can cause the lights on a flashlight to slowly dim, so can poor mitochondrial function drain us of energy and function.

PQQ and aging

Poor mitochondrial function is a key marker of aging. Research shows people over the age of 70 have 50 percent more mitochondrial damage in the brain than those who are middle-aged. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also linked to chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dementia and Alzheimer’s.

PQQ is found in the natural world, including in plants and even in stardust. However, because we cannot synthesize it ourselves we depend on getting it from out diets, which makes it an essential micronutrient. Studies show that animals deprived of PQQ exhibit stunted growth, poor immunity, reproductive problems, and fewer mitochondria in their tissues. Putting PQQ back into their diets reversed these issues.

PQQ is also unique because it is a very stable antioxidant, which means it can perform it’s cellular defense duties without breaking down. It has been shown to be especially effective in the heart and the brain, the body’s two most energy-demanding organs.

PQQ and the brain

Studies of PQQ have shown it can optimize the health of the entire central nervous system, reverse cognitive impairment, improve memory, help in stroke recovery, slow the damage caused by neurodegenerative disease  and help protect the brain from toxicity, such as from mercury.

Because of its many protective roles, researchers and clinicians are looking at PQQ’s preventive role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. One study on aging rats showed supplementation with PQQ resulted in significantly improved memory. Studies on humans showed supplementation of 20 mg a day of PQQ improved cognition in middle-aged and elderly people. The improvements were amplified when they also took 300 mg a day of CoQ10 in addition to the PQQ.

PQQ and the heart

PQQ appears to help protect the heart after a heart attack and from oxidative stress in general, thanks to its ability to support mitochondrial function.

To learn more about PQQ and how it may help you, contact my office.