Gluten in the vegetarian diet: what you should know

We are going to show you the tips that you have to take into account when starting a gluten-free vegetarian diet to be able to plan it without problems.

Last update: 08 September, 2022

The gluten-free vegetarian diet can be started in those people who have celiac disease or sensitivity to the nutrient and want to avoid the consumption of foods of animal origin.

Gluten is a protein that is present in many products of plant origin, especially in cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. However, it is possible to make a free pattern of this element that satisfies the daily requirements.

Before we begin, we must emphasize that vegan diets as such are not better for health than omnivorous ones. They should not be started for this reason. It is an approach that has a deep moral charge related to the need to avoid animal suffering and abuse. It is possible to optimize it to be healthy, but it will be necessary to include supplements on a frequent basis.

When to start a vegetarian gluten-free diet?

Gluten can be withdrawn from the vegetarian diet when there is a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease or when, simply, alterations are experienced at the intestinal level after the consumption of said protein.

According to a study published in the journal Medicine, it is possible to suffer from digestive problems such as bloating, pain, gas or diarrhea after eating gluten. The exact physiology of the problem is unknown but it is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

If you suffer from discomfort after eating gluten on a regular basis, consult your doctor.

Not all people who have developed this pathology have symptoms with the same intensity. Therefore, some are able to tolerate a certain amount of gluten in the guideline. In this case, it is best to check the individual sensations to completely remove the nutrient from the routines or not.

Faced with the presence of celiac disease, it will be necessary to be much stricter. Not only must the substance be completely restricted, but ensuring that no traces of it are ingested is also key.

However, there are some products, such as oatmeal, that can be consumed by certain people with celiac disease. This concentrates in its interior a substance homologous to gluten, avenin, but with a different structure. Individual tolerance will have to be tested before including the food in the guideline on a regular basis in this type of person.

Gluten-free vegetarian products

In the context of fresh food, just avoid wheat, barley and rye to propose a gluten-free vegetarian diet. However, it is common for certain processed foods to be included in routines, such as meat substitutes, to improve protein intake.

At least it will be necessary to guarantee a consumption of 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of weight per day in sedentary people so that the physiology works correctly. An investigation published in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism confirms this.

When this kind of food is included in the diet, it will be decisive to look for the certification of a gluten-free product on the label, especially when we talk about people with celiac disease. Otherwise, the structure of the digestive tract would be affected, increasing the risk of suffering from complex and chronic pathologies that could endanger life.

However, the presence of these foods in the guideline must be moderated. Increasing protein intake is key, but meat substitutes are not always the best option. For this, the inclusion of vegetable protein shakes in the daily diet may be a better alternative.

The one that comes from the pea is a good option. In addition, these supplements correct the deficiencies in terms of digestibility and amino acid deficiencies through food engineering.

Evaluate with your nutritionist doctor, if meat substitutes are the best option for you.

In this way, the introduction into the body of elements that can be harmful in the medium term, such as trans fats and artificial additives, is also avoided. Among the latter, artificial sweeteners should be highlighted above all. Their impact on the body is controversial and some evidence suggests that they could cause damage to the intestinal microbiota over time.

It is possible to consider a gluten-free vegetarian diet

As you have seen, it is relatively easy to plan a gluten-free vegetarian diet. Care must be taken with the presence of processed products in it, always monitoring the labels.

On the other hand, the use of certain cereals as sources of carbohydrates will be avoided. Above all, it will be necessary to use tubers, legumes and rice or pseudocereals in order to satisfy the sugar needs on a daily basis.

Finally, sometimes the problem of non-celiac gluten sensitivity could be in the microbiota. Executing a protocol to improve its quality would cause good results in the medium term, increasing the organism’s tolerance to the protein. The same does not happen in the case of celiac disease. Here, the problem is autoimmune in nature and only improves with complete gluten restriction.

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