Soybeans have been a popular staple in our diets for thousands of years, particularly across Asian cuisine and increasingly within many dairy and meat substitutes.
Despite its deliciousness and adaptability, however, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, soy is also one of the world’s top eight food allergens, impacting an estimated 0.4% of infants and children across America today.
Throughout this post, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about:
- The leading causes of soy allergies
- The key symptoms of a soy allergy, including itchy skin
- How to treat and prevent skin irritations caused by soy protein
Keep reading to learn more about how soy could impact your overall health, helping you identify key symptoms and find a treatment plan that works best for you.
What is Soy?
Soybeans are a member of the legume family of vegetables, typically grown in East Asia.
Because soy offers a high-quality protein, it tends to be popular amongst people following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Soybeans are also one of the only plant foods in the world that contains all of the essential amino acids typically found within meat.
Foods That Contain Soy
Thanks to their versatility, soybeans form a central ingredient in many common food products, including:
- Soy sauce and vegetable broth
- Soy bread and other baked goods
- Dairy alternatives such as soy milk and soy yogurt, soy cheese and soy ice cream
- Textured vegetable protein, including soy hot dogs or soy mince-meat substitutes
- Energy bars and protein powders
Many unlikely foods also contain soy, such as peanut butter, mayonnaise, and vegetable gum.
If you suspect that you or your loved one might have a soy allergy, we encourage you to regularly check the food allergen labeling of the products you’re consuming to be safe.
What Causes a Soy Allergy?
Soy albumin is a type of plant protein found within the soybean.
For people with a soy allergy, when soy albumin is ingested, the body’s immune system will trigger the release of histamine and other defensive chemicals into the bloodstream, causing an inflammatory response.
While an allergic reaction will typically occur immediately after soy consumption, in the case of foods such as soy oil and soy lecithin, the soybeans are so highly processed that the soy albumin may have been mostly broken down, meaning that they may be tolerable for some people with a soy allergy.
If you are prone to a severe allergic reaction to soy, we encourage you to take great caution not to consume soy oil and soy lecithin unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Soy allergies tend to be most prevalent amongst infants and children, with the majority of little ones eventually outgrowing their allergic reactions.
Other key risk factors for developing a soy allergy include:
- A family history of other food allergies (such as a peanut allergy)
- Having eczema or asthma – due to the phenomenon of the ‘atopic march‘
People who are allergic to soy may experience:
- Itching, often accompanied by a tingling sensation across the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat
- Outbreak of skin rashes, including hives
- Stomach issues, including cramps, nausea, and diarrhea
Thankfully, compared to other food allergies, it is rare to experience a severe allergic reaction to soy.
However, a few people may still experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, or confusion.
If this sounds familiar, we’d urge you to seek emergency medical help and contact your healthcare provider for support in putting together a long-term treatment plan.
Allergy cross-reactivity occurs when your body mistakenly confuses the reactive substance found within soy protein with other components found in similar foods, such as peanuts, or different legumes, such as lentils, beans, or peas.
If you are allergic to soy, however, it is important not to assume that your immune system will automatically react to all foods within the legume family or to restrict your diet unnecessarily.
Speaking with a dietitian may be a great way to support you in learning how to balance your soy allergy symptoms while still enjoying a diverse, satisfying, and nutritious diet.
How Do You Diagnose A Soy Allergy?
To determine exactly which foods you’re triggered by, your allergist will typically run a blood and skin prick test to monitor your body’s reaction to specific food substances in a controlled, safe environment.
To help your doctor get to the root of your allergic reactions quicker, start a food diary to log which foods you’re consuming and track your symptoms.
Soy Allergy Treatment Methods
If you’re struggling with allergic reactions to soy, we’ve got some ideas about how you can handle your current symptoms and prevent future flare-ups with sustainable lifestyle changes.
Try An Elimination Diet
Following your doctor’s advice, you may try an elimination diet to avoid further allergic reactions, reading food labels carefully and cutting soy protein out of your diet.
And saying goodbye to soy doesn’t have to leave your taste buds at a loss, either! Some of the most popular plant-based, high-protein soy alternatives include:
- Black beans
Many animal-based products such as dairy milk and eggs are also fantastic rich protein and vitamin B-12 sources.
Use A Soothing Moisturizer
One of the most common soy allergy symptoms is itchy skin, including the outbreak of uncomfortable rashes such as hives.
To prevent further skin inflammation and to break the itch-scratch cycle, we recommend using a deeply hydrating moisturizer.
This Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream has been designed to calm even the most aggravated, dry, and cracked skin. Made from soothing manuka honey, olive oil, and beeswax, this buttery balm boasts natural anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reverse the symptoms of your allergic reaction and restore your skin barrier.
Find Gentle, Hypoallergenic Clothing
Particularly if you’re having an outbreak of full-body hives, switching out any rough, scratchy clothing or soft, stretchy alternatives while your skin is healing can be helpful.
This can be especially important for your underwear, which makes close contact with your skin throughout the day.
If you’re prone to sensitive skin, try this 100% Pure Silk and Organic Cotton Wireless Bra and Pure Silk and Organic Cotton Brief. The pure silk lining offers a cooling touch, relieving skin rashes, hives, and itchy skin.
For men, these 100% Organic Cotton Men’s Drawstring Boxers are elastic-free and feature a soft drawstring closure to allow you to adjust them to fit as desired. Both hypoallergenic and functional, these boxers are the perfect solution if you’re struggling with sensitive skin.
Heal Your Soy Allergy Symptoms Today
Follow these tips to help you recognize how your soy food allergy may impact your overall health, allowing you to discover the most suitable treatment methods for you.