Soy allergy is one of the most common food allergies, especially in children, but it can persist into adulthood. Soy allergy causes a number of allergy symptoms including eczema, hives, and even anaphylaxis.
Soy is also often implicated in intolerance rather than true allergy. Soybeans offer a low-cost, high-quality protein and it can be difficult to avoid soy as it is widely used in packaged and pre-prepared foods and commonly encountered in daily life, with children being exposed at a young age. Soy protein is also a common substitute for milk protein in infant formula as there is the suggestion that it is more suitable for the immature gastrointestinal tract of babies.
Soybeans are a member of the legume family and share similar proteins. If you are allergic to soy you may also test positive to other related legumes such as peanut, kidney beans (also known as haricot beans, navy beans, canellini or white beans and 'baked beans'), lima beans, broad beans, butter beans, black-eye peas, chickpeas, mung beans, peas and lentils.
But this may be the result of cross- sensitization rather than a true allergy. For example although soybeans share similar proteins with other legumes most people with peanut allergy can eat other legumes.
Many studies show that, although people are told to avoid all legumes because allergy tests show positive results to more than one legume, allergic reactions occurring in soy-allergic people when other legumes are eaten is actually only about 5%.
Carob is also a legume and so is lupin, now grown for flour and used mostly in sweet baked goods, especially in Continental Europe.
If you’ve been diagnosed as having a soy allergy it’s important to follow a diet that avoids any form of soy. Labels should show where soy is included in the food product, but there are other ingredients containing soy that may not be so obvious. These are listed here:
- hydrolyzed soy protein
- soy sauce
- gum Arabic
- guar gum
- gluten-free breads and other gluten-free products (most but not all)
- hydrolyzed vegetable (or plant) protein
- lecithin (soy)
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
- soy flour
- soy nuts
- soy pantheon
- soy protein
- soya beans
- soya cheese
- soya milk
- soya oil
- soya yoghurt
- textured vegetable protein (TVP)
- vegetable broth
- vegetable gum
- vegetable starch
- vegetarian burgers, risottos, sausage rolls and most other meat substitute
Please note that this cannot be an exhaustive list and if you have a severe soy allergy, always be cautious.
In addition to strictly avoiding any and all of the above foods, it is important to have your Epi-pen® available for emergency use at all times in case you should accidently eat or drink anything containing soy.
An Allergy ID tag or bracelet is extremely useful in severe forms of soy allergy, so that emergency personnel can be aware of your medical condition if you are unable to communicate.
Children are usually happy to wear a wristband that alerts others of their Soy Allergy.
Substitutes for Soy Products to avoid Soy in your diet
Toasted sesame oil makes a reasonable alternative to soy sauce
Almond or rice milk and yogurt is now widely available as a substitute for soy varieties.
For wheat-free, soy-free bread the answer is to make your own. Rice cakes are soy-free.