How to Live With a Soy Allergy

Soy is becoming more popular because of its health benefits, but it's also one of the top eight most common foods that trigger allergies in children, often beginning with a reaction to soy-based infant formula and in more and more cases, persisting into adulthood.[1] The symptoms are usually mild, but sometimes they're life-threatening. If you or your child has a soy allergy, learning how to cope will improve your daily life.


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    Become familiar with the symptoms of an allergic reaction to soy. They're usually mild and develop within a few minutes to an hour after consuming soy:[2]
    • Tingling in the mouth
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    • Hives, itching or eczema
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    • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body
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    • Canker sores
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    • Wheezing, runny nose or trouble breathing
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    • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
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    • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
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    Identify the symptoms of anaphylaxis. This is a severe, life-threatening reaction that's more common in people who are asthmatic or have other food allergies (e.g. peanuts). The following symptoms require emergency treatment:[2]
    • Constriction of airways, including a swollen throat, that makes it difficult to breathe
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    • Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure
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    • Rapid pulse
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    • Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
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    Read food labels. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers to list soy as an ingredient in plain terms, but they are not required to state if the product was processed in a facility that also processed soy. Soy is also used in meat products and meat substitutes, baked goods, candies, ice creams and desserts, condiments, and butter substitutes. Additional food items to be careful with are listed in the Tips below. Ingredients to watch out for are:[3]
    • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
    • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
    • Lecithin
    • Monoglyceride
    • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
    • Guar gum
    • Vegetable oil
    • Vitamin E
    • Natural flavoring
    • Natural Flavors
    • Vegetable broth
    • Vegetable gum
    • Vegetable starch
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    Be aware of and avoid soy based, non-food products such as cosmetics, soap, candles, printing ink and crayons. While most often these products are petroleum based, soy-based versions are sold as an alternative to petroleum based products.
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    Join a group. With soy allergies becoming more common, you can connect with others on the Internet and compare notes on which foods have soy and which don't (or how much they do contain). You can also take action as a group in the interest of people with soy allergies, such as encouraging stricter labeling laws.
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    Determine your threshold. If your reaction to soy is mild, you may be able to consume soy products in small quantities with tolerable effects, especially with the help of oral antihistamines.
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    Carry injectable epinephrine (such as an EpiPen) with you at all times if you're at risk for a severe allergic reaction to soy.[4] It's also a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet [5]with information about your allergy. No matter how hard you try, there is a chance you'll eat a product with soy in it, so be prepared.


  • Soy-Free Companies Include: Namaste Foods, Enjoy Life chocolate
  • The following food products are likely to have soy in them:

    • tamari sauce, teriyaki and shoyu
    • Asian menu items
    • fast food (hamburger buns, hamburger meat, sauces)[6]
    • multi-grain breads, doughnuts, doughnut mix and pancake mix
    • edamame
    • tofu
    • bouillon cubes (beef, chicken, vegetable, etc.)
    • miso
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • some cereals
    • Macaroni and Cheese
    • Stuffing Mix
    • Rice-A-Roni
    • Canned Soup
    • Saltine Crackers
    • Goldfish Crackers
    • Bread and Bread Crumbs
    • 'natural flavors' is the hidden GMO ingredient derived from soy. It is in colas, ginger ales, chips and mainstream processed foods.
    • Most fast foods contain soy. It is used as a filler in breads and soy protein is used for meats and breading. Always read ingredients from the fast-food chain's website before eating or giving to your child.
    • Since soy is a forbidden food for Jews who keep strictly kosher for Passover, Passover is a good time of the year to find and stock up on soy-free products.
  • A doctor can confirm a soy allergy through testing. If possible, see the doctor while you think the reaction is occurring so a diagnosis can be made more easily.[7]
  • Soy oil has vanishing small amounts of protein (which is the allergen)[8][9] and clinical research has shown that soy oil does not cause allergic reactions.[10]


  • Soy is in most everything these days. Go look through your cabinets and try to find something that doesn't have soy in it. Mayonnaise, Peanut Butter(they take out the peanut oil because they can make a lot of money selling it, and replace it with soy oil), granola bars, vitamins, shampoos, and lotions. Look up the soy industry and you will find soy is being used for printer inks, crayons, foam cushioning for cars and coating for carpeting! Soy is cheap to use and everyone is finding ways to use it, market it and sell it, so be careful.
  • You're at an increased risk of having a soy allergy if allergies of any kind are common in your family and if you have allergies to other foods.[11] That means that if you have a soy allergy, you should look out for similar symptoms in your relatives, especially children. If you are having a child, breastfeeding may reduce the likelihood of food allergies in the child.[12]

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