Preventing Frailty: A Few Notes About Exercise, Nutrition, Black Cumin Seed Oil and Sea Buckthorn Berries

by Nils Osmar. Updated Feb. 6, 2024 Medical Disclaimer

Frailty is a killer, and can be challenging to reverse once it kicks in. It’s age-related, so if and when a cure for aging is found, it may vanish as a problem. In the meantime, if you’re 65 or older, or caring for someone who is, there are signs to watch out for, and things that can help:

Signs of frailty

Johns Hopkins Medicine lists several possible signs of frailty. From their website:

You or a loved one may be considered frail if three or more of these criteria, developed by Johns Hopkins, apply to you:

You’re shrinking. You’ve unintentionally lost 10 or more pounds in the past year. You feel weak. You have trouble standing without assistance or have reduced grip strength. You feel exhausted. Everything you do takes a big effort, or you just can’t get going three or more days most weeks. Your activity level is low. This includes formal exercise plus household chores and activities you do for fun. You walk slowly. Your pace is considered slow if the time it takes you more than six or seven seconds to walk 15 feet.

Their recommendations include being active; eating well, including enough high quality protein from sources such as milk, meat, fish, poultry, beans and yogurt; keeping your mind active; and nurturing an optimistic attitude.

Stem cells may be a factor

  • Some recent research identifies stem cell exhaustion and depletion as factors in why we experience a sudden, precipitous increase in frailty after the age of 70.
  • Instead of having a large number of different lines of stem cells, we abruptly find ourselves having a very small number.
  • For this reason, some researchers are exploring stem cell therapy as a possible approach to reverse frailty. See study

From an article summarizing the study:

The researchers found that these ‘family trees’ changed dramatically after the age of 70 years. The production of blood cells in adults aged under 65 came from 20,000 to 200,000 stem cells, each of which contributed in roughly equal amounts.

In contrast, blood production in individuals aged over 70 was very unequal.

A reduced set of expanded stem cell clones – as few as 10 to 20 – contributed as much as half of all blood production in every elderly individual studied. These highly active stem cells had progressively expanded in numbers across that person’s life, caused by a rare subset of somatic mutations known as ‘driver mutations’.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

A recent study found that “consumption of sea buckthorn oil resulted in a rapid mobilization of stem cells, increasing the numbers of sub-types of stem cells in the circulation which is vital for the repair and regeneration characteristic of age-related degeneration of tissues.” So it’s one of the foods I take regularly, mixed into a smoothie.

Black Cumin seed oil

A 2018 study found that “Thymoquinone influences the expression of genes involved in self-renewal and immunomodulatory potential of mouse bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells in vitro”. Thymoquinone is found in black cumin seeds and their oil. The seed oil can be used in cooking, though some find its taste objectionable.

My thoughts, and what I’m doing

I’m not experiencing frailty yet; I hope to avoid it completely, so am trying to be proactive to prevent it. Things I’m doing include exercising and eating more protein than I used to, using many of the food sources they mention, with a particular emphasis on fish. (I also eat whey protein, has numerous anti-aging benefits.)

My doctor was surprised to note during my last visit (about a month ago) that I’m the same height I’ve always been; at the age of 70, I haven’t started shrinking. I suspect this is because I focus on eating a high nutrient, protein-rich diet. Several close friends (my age) who eat either vegan or nearly-diets, hoping for “health”, are all shrinking rapidly.

I’m also supplementing with products that support stem cell health, including (but not limited t0) sea buckthorn berry powder (which is rich in sea buckthorn oil). I’m also using black cumin seed oil in cooking.

Will this help?

Will taking products that support stem cell proliferation and differentiation turn out to be an effective strategy against frailty and aging? Time will tell. To my mind, black cumin and sea buckthorn berry products fall into the category of “may help, and will probably do no harm.”

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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