what is a soy allergy
Soy is a legume and can be found in multiple forms such as soybean, soy flour, soy oil, soy seasoning, and soy protein. Soy is a common “hidden” food additive. This allergy mostly occurs during infancy and is usually outgrown by age 5. Soy allergy is less severe than other allergies but in rare cases it can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis.
There are some soy products that do not cause a reaction or may only produce a small reaction. For example, fermented soy may be tolerable to eat for people because the process of fermentation breaks down the proteins in soy. Soybean oil contains only small amounts of the soy protein and doesn’t normally create a reaction.
A soy allergy occurs when the immune system treats a particular protein in soy as a threat to the body. Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, is an antibody that is produced by the body to attack the food protein (the antigen). Once the antibodies have contact with the antigen it signals an attack on the protein by releasing histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause the allergic symptoms. Each type of food has its own proteins. A person may become allergic to one protein or more than one.
- Wheezing, difficulty breathing
- Runny nose, congestion
- Swelling of the lips, eyes, face, tongue and/or throat
- Mouth tingles or is itchy
- Skin rash (note: eczema is a common skin condition often associated with food allergies, see your doctor for proper diagnosis)
- Loose stools
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Anaphylaxis (can occur in some severe cases) Anaphylaxis is when the throat swells making breathing difficult because the airways constrict. Other symptoms may include a rapid pulse, dizziness, shock, and lightheadedness. This is life threatening and needs to be treated immediately by a clinician.
how to test and diagnose
If you think you have a soy allergy keep a diary of the foods you are eating and what signs and symptoms you are experiencing after eating those foods.
Elimination Diet: Remove soy and soy products from your diet for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks gradually reintroduce soy products into your diet and see how your body reacts. You can use www.foodfacts.com as a guide for ingredients to avoid or substitutions. If your symptoms are relieved during the time the food is eliminated, you may be allergic to that food. See your doctor for proper diagnosis.
Skin Test: See your doctor or an allergist and get a test. Your doctor can perform a skin test. A tiny amount of food that can possibly cause an allergy is applied to your skin, and then your skin is pricked to allow that amount of food to get below the skin’s surface to see if you have a reaction. If you are allergic a rash may develop or another type of reaction can occur on the area that the food was applied.
Blood Test: A blood test, also called a RAST (radioallergosorbent test) can determine the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood. Your blood is sent to a lab where they test foods with your blood to see if a particular protein in that food causes high amounts of IgE in your blood. If you have high amounts of IgE then you are allergic to that food.
how to manage
Avoidance is the only way to prevent symptoms from a food allergy. Be careful to read food labels to avoid your allergen and educate yourself on the names of the ingredients that may indicate your allergen is present. There are many substitutions that you can use for the foods you need to avoid.
Wear a Medical Alert bracelet to alert others to be aware of your allergy in case there is an emergency.
Be sure to tell family, friends, co-workers, teachers etc. of your allergy if there should be an emergency.
Carry an epinephrine autoinjector as directed by your doctor. If you have a severe allergy, and in the event that anaphylaxis occurs, this is advisable. This requires a prescription from your doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe other antihistamines. Antihistamines may be used; however, it is not as effective.
ingredients to avoid
- Tamari soy sauce
- Soy bean oil
- Soy sauce
- Shoyu sauce
- Soy flour
- Soy nuts
- Soy milk
- Soy sprouts
- Soy grits
- Soy protein isolate
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Textured vegetable protein (TPV)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Vegetable oil
- Vitamin E
- Natural flavoring (may contain soy)
- Vegetable broth
- Vegetable gum
- Vegetable starch
- Worcestershire sauce (may contain soy)
- Baked goods (may contain soy)
- Fried fast food items (may use soy in the oils for cooking)
- Atrovent (an inhaler the contains soy lecithin)
- Soy bean: kidney, black, pinto, chickpeas, etc.
- Soy sauce: sea salt, vegetable cubes try brand names such as Vogue, Frontier, Morga (Swiss), Steinbach (German), and Rapunzel (British), Bragg’s liquid aminos. Note: Most vegetable cubes use yeast or MSG as a ingredients, so read the label carefully or consult a nutritionist before choosing the specific brand. Or look it up in our database to see if it has any soy related ingredients.
- Soy protein: fresh meats, fish, beans, and vegetables.
The Joy of Food: The Alkaline Way Guide: Implementing you LRA by ELISA/ACT tests results and treatment plan, RJM Holdings LLC, 1990 -2004
Content written February 2009, JeanMarie Ceravolo CHC