McCombs Sport Performance & Fitness

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Fish it really good for you?

Posted on June 24, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Do you take a fish oil supplement? Do you feel better? Worse? Indifferent?

People report feeling less arthritis pain after taking fish oil capsules.  Whether or not taking fish oil supplements really relieves the joint pain caused by arthritis or is it possibly a psychological trick; convincing oneself that by thinking they are taking a fish oil supplement when they actually are not somehow makes them feel better.

First let’s look at the theory; do taking fish oil supplements relieve arthritis pain? This theory is internally and externally consistent because it is consistent with the data it is supposed to explain and it implies that something is possibly true. To assess the evidence for this theory would take a significant amount of time, however, there are several studies done to test whether or not taking a fish oil supplement relieves arthritis pain. Some studies show no evidence that taking a fish oil supplement actually relieves arthritis pain. Other studies suggest a slight improvement when taking the fish oil supplements. There are several plausible arguments that may contest the validity of this theory, to name a few, “Exercise helps relieve arthritis pain” and “Topical creams relieve arthritis pain.” When applying the criteria of adequacy this theory is testable, fruitful (meaning there are a number of predictions made), has a broad scope, is simplistic, and is conservative with the existing evidence examined.

The second theory, the placebo effect, implies that subjects with arthritis pain are given a supplement to relieve their discomfort in their joints from arthritis. To their knowledge they think they are taking an actual supplement but in turn it is not. This theory is also internally and externally consistent because experimenters have also collected data this theory supports to claim and is possibly true that taking a “fake” supplement provides the individual with a stronger mental capacity for pain. Once again, to review the evidence given for this theory would take quite some time but to my knowledge there are studies that have shown improvement among individuals with arthritis while taking a placebo supplement. Other possible theories to evaluate are, “Individuals with arthritis already take pain medication” or “Persons with arthritis are told to eat more fish to help with their arthritis pain”. The criteria of adequacy for this theory is testable, fruitful, has a broad scope, simplistic and conservative as well because there are several studies done by experimenters examining supplements when compared to a placebo supplement.

In conclusion one theory did not seem to be stronger than the other. These two theories are both well tested and I leave it up to the individual to decide what works best for them. As for me, I believe that eating (on a daily basis) lean meats (to include fish), fruits and vegetables, some nuts, no starch, and no refined sugars with moderate to intense exercise three times a week will reduce the arthritis pain. I'm trying my first can of sardines next week!  Think that's enough fish oil?



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Reply Reeves
8:35 AM on August 6, 2019 
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