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Sous Club Food News, Facts, and Fun Reviews

What is the difference between a soy allergy & a soy intolerance?


Are you wondering if you have a soy allergy or a soy intolerance?

To learn the difference between a Soy Allergy and a Soy Intolerance we will look at the symptoms of both and compare them.


Maybe you've already been to the doctor for an allergy test and you've been told you are not allergic to soy. Armed with that information, you might have gone out and ate a bunch of stuff with soy in it. And now your not feeling well at all. So if you are not allergic to soy, then why do you get so many symptoms after you eat it?

Let's take a closer look at soy

Some experts critical of soy will tell you that it is hard to digest anyway and that people shouldn't eat too much of it because there is stuff inside soy that can make it hard for your to absorb the vitamins and minerals in your food. Those ingredients are phytic acid , saponins, lectins, and oxalates. Soy manufacturers work hard to add nutrients to soy and have also processed soy products to get rid of most of those ingredients. But still, some very sensitive people might still get gassy or have bad tummy cramps after eating soy.

So what is soy? Well, soy is a short name for soybeans, and is also sometimes called adame or soya. You can buy it in the grocery store in a pod but you can also buy the seeds in the freezer section of your grocery store, too. But kids with soy allergies need to understand that soy is an ingredient in many foods, especially sauces. You really need to read the labels and learn how to avoid soy in order to stay healthy.

Did you know that soy is one of the most common food intolerances for babies and kids? Years ago doctors would give soy formula for babies with milk intolerance. But many doctors soon found out that these babies also reacted badly to the soy formula too.  You see, these babies would have all kinds of tummy problems, growth problems, and problems in their intestines. Their poop would not form right, and many times they would get diarrhea so bad it would cause terrible diaper rashes. You see, these babies were having a difficult time digesting the soy. Experts think that the protein found in soy is hard for some people to digest. And it is very much like the protein in cow's milk. Today it is commonly known that soy formula is not a good idea for babies who are intolerant to milk.

Soy allergies are very different. A baby or child with a soy allergy may not have a problem digesting the protein in soy like someone who is soy intolerant. What makes soy so dangerous for the kid with soy allergies is not the soy itself. It is the way their body acts when it touches, breaths in, or eats something with soy in it. A person with food allergies thinks that the food they are allergic to isn't food. Instead the body mistakes it for something like a bad bacteria, or virus, or germ that is bad for them and can make them sick. To fight off the soy that they have mistaken for a bad germ their bodies, allergic kids make these things called antibodies. The job of an antibody is to fight off everything that might harm the body, just like a soldier does in a war. This is why a child with food allergies will get skin rashes, stuffy noses, and even get fevers and swelling when they come into contact with their allergen.

Babies and kids with soy allergies will have many symptoms like:

  • Stuffed up noses
  • Itchy bumpy red skin rashes on their face, arms, chest, back, or legs (also called hives)
  • An itchy, rashy spot on your skin after soy touches that area
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy throat
  • Problems catching your breath
  • Swelling
  • Flushing (this is when your cheeks and ears get really red and hot to the touch)
  • Swollen glands (feel for the lumps on your neck just underneath your ears, if they are big and sore, then you have swollen glands)

Babies and kids with soy intolerance will have many symptoms like:

  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness, tiredness
  • Really bad headaches that just don't go away
  • Body aches
  • Lots of infections that don't seem to go away, and when they do, another one comes back
  • Problems paying attention

Soy intolerance can damage your intestines just like gluten (which is the protein in wheat) does in kids with celiac disease. The tiny hairs in your small intestines, called villi, will lay down and get flat. When they do this the soy intolerant child will start to have all kinds of health problems just like a child who develops celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder. Restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King use soy in their hamburger meat, sauces, and buns. Most all breads in the United States contain soy derivatives and many contain soy flour.

If you have both kinds of symptoms it is possible you have both an allergy and an intolerance to soy. Kids, please ask your parents to check out our Food Allergy Shopping Guide to help you manage your soy free diet.


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