What Does Soy Free Mean, Exactly?

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Today’s topic is about everything soy free! If you have a soy allergy, you probably already know avoiding it can be quite difficult. The biggest issue with going soy free is that it’s found in many common foods. And reading food labels can be difficult. Let’s not even talk about dining out!

Soy allergies are becoming more common these days, affecting 1.5 million children and adults every year. but what does soy free mean and is it even possible to eat a soy free diet and still enjoy life?

It is very possible! To fully understand what does soy free mean, we have to understand whether people are actually allergic to true soy or GMO soy products found in America. Believe it or not, there is a difference. Many people who are allergic to soy find no issues with actually eating fermented soy, as prepared in Asian cultures.

What is a soy allergy?

A soy allergy is an adverse immune response to soy protein and foods that contain soy, a product of soybeans. The body mistakenly assumes the proteins found in soy are invaders and immediately creates antibodies against them. Soy allergies are not just limited to soybeans however. Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we eat on an everyday basis contain soy, such as processed foods, meat products, baked goods, and cereals.

Allergic reactions can be mild and limited to the skin, such as hives or a rash, or severe and life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis. Severe symptoms are typically rare.

A person with a soy allergy may experience:

  • stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headaches
  • cramps
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • trouble breathing or swallowing

A severe allergic reaction can lead to low blood pressure and shock as well as swelling of the throat and tongue. In some cases death may occur if not treated quickly enough.

How long does it take for someone with a soy allergy to feel sick?

People usually start feeling symptoms within minutes to a couple hours after eating foods that contain soy protein.

A person with an allergy will start to experience symptoms like fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness within an hour of exposure to soy because their immune system is still releasing histamine into the bloodstream. This type of reaction can be triggered by ingesting any amount of soy or coming into contact with products that contain soy—including makeup, shampoo or toothpaste—so it’s important to read labels carefully.

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How long does it take for someone with a soy allergy to feel sick?

People usually start feeling symptoms within minutes to a couple hours after eating foods that contain soy protein.

A person with an allergy will start to experience symptoms like fatigue, dizziness or lightheadedness within an hour of exposure to soy because their immune system is still releasing histamine into the bloodstream. This type of reaction can be triggered by ingesting any amount of soy or coming into contact with products that contain soy—including makeup, shampoo or toothpaste—so it’s important to read labels carefully.

How many people in America have a soy allergy?

Soy allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, affecting about 0.4% of the population under age three. It’s more common in younger children than older, because they often outgrow it.

It is also increasingly becoming more prevalent in older generations, affecting 2-3% of adults. Among those with a soy allergy, about 20% are estimated to have severe reactions.

What causes a soy allergy?

Based on my own research and studying as a Holistic Health Coach, I’ve come up with my own theory on what causes a soy allergy. And a question you need to ask yourself is, are you really allergic to soy or the American version of soy?

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)

Companies create GMO’s by genetically engineering the DNA of one organism with another. Genes are swapped from one organism to another without regard to biological constraints.

Companies use GMOs for many reasons.

  • the crop becomes insect and herbicide resistant (which actually cause stronger more harmful pesticides being used)
  • can produce more per acre, leading to more yields for farmers
  • bigger crops produced

It’s estimated that 75% of all grocery store food is GMO and 95% of all soy found in America is GMO. Even though the FDA approves GMO foods, studies continue to show adverse health effects through animal studies.

  • Cancer promoting
  • affects reproduction
  • hinders immune system

The bottom line is, unless you are eating true fermented soy, the soy you are eating is most likely a GMO creation.

Overall digestion issues

A healthy digestive system is not only about avoiding constipation, diarrhea, and the abdominal pain. It means having a healthy gut which contributes to a strong immune system because your body’s largest organ (the gut) is an important part of your defense against illness. Your gut communicates with every part of your body.

What does this have to do with soy?

People with digestive issues have a harder time breaking down soy proteins. The digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins is pepsin. Pepsin can become ineffective if your stomach acid levels are low or you have an overgrowth of bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori . A deficiency in zinc, iron, vitamin B6, and calcium can also lead to bad digestion. All these deficiencies contribute to the poor breakdown of the soy, which can lead to an allergy.

GMO Soy versus Fermented Soy

This is the big one. People with a soy allergy aren’t actually allergic to true fermented soy. They are allergic to the processed GMO version of soy. Put simply, you’re not getting real soy in America.

Fermented soy improves digestibility, increases nutritional value, and provides beneficial bacteria to the gut. The fermentation process itself helps make the isoflavones, a powerful antioxidant, more readily available.

Overconsumption of Soy

Because of the increase in GMO soy products in processed foods, there is a direct link in the rise of soy allergies. People are overconsuming these soy products in general because it’s in all the food nowadays. The human body was not designed to recognize these genetically engineered modifications.

It’s important to pay attention to nutrition labels. If soy is listed as an ingredient, chances are it’s GMO. The best way to avoid this is focus on a whole foods nutritional approach!

Why is Soy Bad for You?

The GMO soy found in processed foods are bad for you because it contains endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen in the body. This can cause hormonal imbalances. Soy also contains phytates which are known to block nutrient absorption, including zinc. Soy also has high levels of goitrogens, substances that suppress thyroid function and cause hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid gland. This can lead to symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, dry skin and hair loss.

Maintaining a healthy diet requires balance between different food groups! Not all foods are created equal!

What foods is soy in?

  • Processed meats like cold cuts, hot dogs, bacon, and lunchmeats
  • Soup broth cubes and seasoning mixes
  • Certain protein bars and protein shakes (check ingredients)
  • Sauces (check ingredients)
  • Vegetable oil for cooking or baking (canola oil is typically ok if not contaminated with soybean oil)

Soy Ingredients to Avoid

  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce
  • Soy Flour
  • Soy Grits
  • Soy Milk
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable Protein

Potential Soy Ingredients to Avoid

  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
  • Natural Flavorings
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Vegetable Starch

The 3 Day Soy Free Meal Plan

Introducing my latest FREE guide, the “3 Day Soy-Free Meal Plan.” Inside you will find:

  • 9 delicious, mouth-watering recipes strategically designed without soy products
  • Whole-Food only ingredients to promote healthy digestion
  • A newfound energy that will naturally sustain you throughout the day, with no crash

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