Soy Allergy

Soy AllergySoy or Soya is a commonly known food product, belonging to legume family, others being string beans, lima beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas etc. Soy is known to cause allergies in infants. Usually the children outgrow soy allergy by the age 3 or 5 but it might persist in some cases.

People with soy allergy can also be allergic to the other items of legume family. Soy allergies and asthma, food allergies co-exist in many people. The risk of developing soy allergy increases if you have asthma and allergic to other foods such as peanut, wheat, etc.

Allergies occur when our body’s immune system mistakes a harmless substance as dangerous and attacks back. The immune system overreacts to the soy protein present in soy bean which is the main cause for allergies. About 15 allergenic soy proteins have been recognized till now. The following article gives an overview on soy allergy.

Causes of Soy Allergy

Soy Allergy is caused when our immune system takes certain soy proteins to be harmful substances. This triggers the production of antibodies to neutralize the allergen or soy protein. If you come in contact or eat the soy protein again the antibodies in the blood alert the immune system to release chemicals like histamine to fight these allergens. Release of histamine and other related chemicals leads to allergic reactions followed by the typical symptoms of the allergy. Why our immune system makes mistakes in identifying harmless substances as allergens is still unclear.

Symptoms of Soy Allergy or Soy Skin Allergy

Symptoms of soy allergy are almost similar in children and infants with other food allergy symptoms. The symptoms develop in an hour after consuming it. Following are the primary soy allergy symptoms:

Ear infection – This symptom is associated with breathing problem. If the breathing passage gets blocked, ears are not able to drain out, resulting in ear infection.

Difficulty in breathing – Nasal congestion which developed due to allergy may often afflict the breathing ability of a baby. If the condition becomes serious, it may result in asthma and wheezing. If a lump or swelling in throat develops, it can also cause shortness of breath. This is the most serious condition and in such cases, immediate medical attention is needed.

Skin rash – In the initial days, you may observe swelling on various body parts such as throat, face, lips and also on tongue. This is followed by itching. The baby may start scratching the areas that are itchy. Gradually, eczema rashes or hives appear on the body and cause great discomfort to the child.

Digestive problems – Digestive problem symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. As the baby intakes food, the baby may throw away the meals. Parents must be careful in identifying the difference between diarrhea and normal bowel movements in babies.

Abdominal Pain – This symptom is hard to identify. Because of pain, babies may become irritated and cry for hours together which seems to be without any cause. While crying, babies may raise their legs to their belly to show their discomfort.

Anaphylaxis – This is a very rare symptom of soy allergy and often found in children suffering from asthma. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include loss of consciousness, fever, drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse rate and so on.

Diagnosis of Soy Allergy

You should see your doctor as soon as you experience the typical food allergy symptoms, common throughout almost all types of food allergy. If you experience anaphylactic symptoms make sure you seek emergency treatment.

In order to find out whether or not it is an allergy, the doctor will conduct two general tests – skin test and blood test. In the skin test, your skin will be pricked and exposed to some soy proteins to see if it causes any allergic reactions. In the blood test a small sample of your blood is examined to see if there are any antibodies (Immunoglobulin E) present in your bloodstream.

Overcoming Soy Allergy

Soy can be made less potent from an allergy point of view by treating it. By fermenting soy as in miso, Natto or Tamari soy can be made less allergic. There are people who are allergic to soy beans or edamame when eaten raw. However, they are perfectly fine when they consume fermented soy products. Fermenting also alters the protein structure and increases the amount of amino acids in the soy product.

Researchers at the University of Illinois along with the researchers at the Instituto de Fermentation’s Industriales in Madrid have opined that nutritious and hypoallergenic food products can be developed. This is done by fermenting the soy bean before processing it. During fermentation the protein molecule disintegrates into simpler amino acid chains which are not identified by the IgE antibodies. Hence, histamine production is not triggered.

Prevention of Soy Allergy

The only way to prevent an allergic reaction to soy is to avoid all products of soy or products that contain soy proteins. Make sure you read the labels on processed and packaged foods carefully to avoid soy allergy.

Soy Allergy – Foods to Avoid:
Following is a list of foods that one must avoid, if they are allergic to soy:

Margarine and Oils – Oil from soybean plant is widely used in most of the processed foods. Soy oil is very cheap and thereby lets manufacturers to reduce the costs of processing foods. However, soybean oil is mentioned in listed. Typically, this is mentioned on labels as a vegetable oil.

Vegetable oil or soybean oil is used in cereals, pastries, frozen dinners, breads and potato chips. Margarine is also a soy-based product as it is primarily soy oil.

Lecithin and Flour – Soy oil is also used in many baked products. Most of the commercially baked breads consist of soy flour. Lecithin is a soy plant product. All baked products and breads including pastries and cakes contain lecithin. This is also used in most beauty products like eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, hand lotions, shampoos.

Gravy, Sauce and Soup – Soy is present in most of the commercially prepared sauces. Apart from soy sauce, other sauces include tamari, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire and every salad dressing. Most of the brown colored sauces consist of soy sauce and therefore, check the label carefully. Stocks and soups also contain soy. Vegetable oil or soy oil are used instead of meat.

Textured soy protein (TSP) and meats – Textured soy protein is found in most packaged products such as frozen meals, soups and stews. This is a substitute for most of the meats and is often found in many vegetarian or meat-free foods. Sliced and cooked chicken which is prepackaged contains soy too. Other prepackaged meats also contain soy.

This is an overview on soy allergy.