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New podcast: Barbara Olendzki on gut health and chronic pain

By Sarah Willey

UMass Medical School Communications

January 07, 2019

The start of the new year is when many people take a closer look at nutrition and start exploring new diet trends. Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, studies how diet affects the microbiome and overall health. She explains the science in a new Voices of UMassMed podcast.

“The microbiome is a system of bacteria—the good guys, the bad guys, the in-between guys—and how they react with each other and individually to produce substances that can either assist us with our health or can lead us in the other direction,” said Olendzki, associate professor of population & quantitative health sciences and the director of the UMMS Center for Applied Nutrition. “The question is, ‘Can we change the microbiome through diet?’”

Olendzki has been conducting research to understand why specific foods can alleviate symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic inflammatory condition of the intestinal tract that can cause debilitating pain, bloating and diarrhea. She developed an evidence-based diet for IBD and has been working with a team to test how the diet impacts bacterial communities while improving symptoms and overall quality of life.

“What we have found is that the diet can change the microbiome to one that is more beneficial for inflammatory conditions,” Olendzki said.

Listen to the full podcast at Listen and subscribe to the podcast on SoundCloud and iTunes by searching Voices of UMassMed. To share feedback and ideas for future episodes, e-mail the Office of Communications at