Soy Allergy: Facts and Prevention

Soy allergy is one of “The Big Eight”—eight common foods that contribute to 90 percent of food allergies. (Others include milk, peanuts, eggs, wheat, fish, tree nuts, and shellfish.)

Soy allergy occurs when the body mistakes proteins in soy as “enemy invaders” and tries to fight them off by releasing chemicals into the body. These chemicals then cause a number of symptoms including stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, pink eye, hay fever, hives, and respiratory problems.

How to Manage Soy Allergy?

One common-sense tactic is to stay away from soy, but that can be easier said than done. Sure, you know not to order a bowl of edamame (the other name for soybeans) at an Asian restaurant, but soy is used in a number of unexpected items. For example, soy can be found in:

  • Condiments such as Worcestershire sauce
  • Many Asian foods
  • Peanut butter
  • Veggie broths
  • Vegetable-based starches
  • Cereal
  • Some brands of peanut butter
  • Cereals
  • High-protein energy bars and snacks
  • Canned tuna
  • Infant formula

Treatment is also now available for soy allergy. While avoidance used to be the only strategy for keeping soy allergy in check, in recent years, doctors have started using sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) to treat soy allergy. SLIT works like allergy shots, only instead of being injected into the skin, the allergens are dispensed as droplets under the tongue that absorb into the blood stream.