Soy allergies are very common. The exact number of cases is difficult to pinpoint because most are diagnosed by elimination diets, not as the result of skin or blood tests. Elimination diets are usually done by avoiding any of the suspected substances until the symptoms disappear. After a while, very small amounts are reintroduced to see if the symptoms reappear.
This allergy is caused by a hypersensitivity to certain substances in soya, mostly the protein.
Soy is a very common food additive. It is found in the majority of processed foods and is therefore very difficult to avoid.
Soy Allergy Symptoms
oy allergy symptoms range from skin problems, itching, asthma-like problems, nasal congestion, to gastrointestinal problems and more. The symptoms can be mild with slight discomfort or more severe. Keep in mind that it can take up to 48 hours after the consumption of soy before symptoms appear, but usually it takes less time.
If you suspect allergies, eliminate ALL suspected products for a while to check if the symptoms disappear. Make sure that you thoroughly read the labels of processed foods as many contain soya as an ingredient.
Checking for the causes of allergies is always a tricky issue, because there are so many potential substances that can trigger allergic reactions.
The table contains a list of the most common soy allergy symptoms as reported by the American Asthma and Allergy Association.
- Eczema: skin rash, red itchy skin
- Asthma: difficulty breathing
- Rhinitis: stuffy or runny nose
- Digestive symptoms: nausea, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
- Canker sores
Extreme allergic reactions are rare but very serious, as it can lead to anaphylaxis: a life-threatening reaction that can develop rapidly, sometimes in seconds. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary and may include difficulty breathing, fainting, dizziness, hives, and heart palpitations. People with severe forms of allergies usually carry Epinephrine in the form of an Epi-Pen.
Not all soya products are equally likely to cause an allergic reaction. Fermented soy products (soy sauce, miso etc) are less likely to cause an allergic reaction, because the fermentation process causes the protein to break down. Unfermented soy, such as soya milk and flour etc. are more likely to be the culprit in allergic reactions.
It did not take long to find foods in my pantry that contain unfermented soy products.
Soybean Oil contains only traces of the protein and may not cause any symptoms. But it is always better to check with your health care provider to see if the oil is safe for you if you are allergic to Soy.
Food Intolerance vs. Allergy
Some people have a food intolerance, rather than an allergy, to soy. The food intolerance causes gastrointestinal problems like bloating, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Because those symptoms can be from either an allergic reactions or from a food intolerance it may be difficult to distinguish between the two.
If a food intolerance is the culprit, it is better to start with small amounts of soy and to build the amount up gradually. Allergic reactions will not be affected by this strategy.
Soy as a food additive comes in many disguises. It is found in hamburger buns, most commercially available bread, creamers, as a “natural flavoring” and in margarine and spreads. Ice cream, bullion cubes, and canned foods often contain its by-products as well. Read the label carefully when you have either an intolerance or allergy to soy.