When you think about soy, you may first think about Chinese or Asian foods. In addition to foods like tofu and soy sauce, soy has become a major ingredient in many processed foods in the United States. It is now one of the most common causes of food allergies in babies.
What is a food allergy?
Food allergy is a reaction by the immune system to a particular food, which is known as the allergen. Normally, when the body recognizes a substance that could be harmful, such as a virus or bacteria, it triggers the immune system to create antibodies to fight off the potentially harmful invaders. In the case of food allergies, the body believes the food is a hazard and creates antibodies to destroy it.
Soy allergy symptoms
Symptoms of soy allergy tend to be mild. The most common symptoms include runny nose, hives, or nausea. In rare cases, soy allergy can result in a potentially deadly reaction known as anaphylaxis, which causes a drop in blood pressure and swelling of the airway that can make breathing difficult.
If you are allergic to soy, you will need to avoid all products made from soybeans. Some examples include:
• Sauces including soy sauce and teriyaki sauce
• Bean curd
• Bean sprouts
• Edamame (fresh soy beans)
• Medications including vitamins and supplements
Soy can also be found in baked foods, canned tuna, cereals, sauces, and soups. Soy is a common ingredient in infant formula as an alternative to dairy formula.
People who are vegetarians need to be especially careful about food choices if they are allergic to soy. Soy is a common ingredient in protein meat substitutes. Eliminating soy from a vegetarian diet can easily result in a poorly balanced diet that is missing key nutrients. If you are vegetarian, it is important to include soy-free protein alternatives such as beans, nuts, and certain whole grains in your diet.
Risks of cross contamination
Another accidental source of soy in foods is cross-contamination. This can happen when a soy-safe food comes in contacts with a product containing soy.