Soy comes from the soybean that is now used in the United States in so many forms and derivatives that the list would be exhaustive. Typically most think of soy as in Soy Sauce, but soy can be processed into everything from milk to animal feed to oil. Soy yields the largest amount of vegetable protein per acre than any other vegetable making it an important cash crop.
Unfortunately soy is in the Top 8 list of foods that produce allergic reactions. It is a common allergen producing symptoms in the population of those who consume it in its various derivatives and forms. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening (anaphylaxis) and can be acute (immediate) to chronic (perpetual if soy is continued to be consumed).
Soy is a common food allergen, and there is a correlation of those who are intolerant to a food item as to those who are allergic to it. An allergy produces a measurable immune response while an intolerance does not. If a food produces a significant amount of allergic reactions in a population, it is reasonable to suspect that there will be a corresponding number of individuals who are intolerant of the same food.
Soy allergy is so common that it is in the Top 8 list of foods that provoke an allergic reaction. With this fact as knowledge amongst those who produce the raw ingredients of our food supply it begs the question to be asked of, why is soy so prevalent in our food supply? Soy allergy is now being noticed in pets whose food uses soy now as a common ingredient. Pet owners everywhere are discovering that their beloved dogs and cats are allergic to soy.
Not only is soy in a vast amount of processed foods it is also used as a primary protein replacement in vegetarian products. In vegetarian products it is known as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). Look for soy in the products one uses by being on the lookout for Soy, soy lecithin, the brand Olean, TVP, Textured Vegetable Protein, tofu, yuba, miso, tamari, shoyu, edamame, soy vegetable oil (that processed foods such as potato chips are fried in), teriyaki, tempeh and also be diligent about the ingredients of all Asian foods since soy is a very common ingredient.
Be aware of the words â€œnatural flavorsâ€ in products. Also be aware of other common label terminology such as vegetable gum, hydrolyzed plant protein, vegetable broth, isolated vegetable protein, isolates, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, methylcellulose, vegetable starch or fat and vegetable protein.
Note that there are claims that since soy oil is devoid of soy protein it cannot cause an allergic reaction. However, for those who suffer from a soy intolerance all components of soy need be abstained from.
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. It is when science alters an organism such as a plant on a genetic level at the DNA structure itself for purposes of eliciting a desired trait. However, in altering the DNA it is not possible for it to be known if there are other things that change within the organism that may render it harmful in some way to another species to which it had not been known to be harmful to.
It is unlikely at this point to have available in any mass produced product soy that is exclusively non-GMO. Without genetic testing of the source of the raw materials it simply cannot be known, and with over 90% of the soy grown in the United States being GMO soy, the likelihood of the GMO soy being in most products is a given. Plus due to the pollen of GMO soy being impossible to confine inside the fences of the farms it is grown on, it won’t be long until all soy is GMO unless it would be grown under strictly controlled conditions within a closed environment thus making it cost prohibitive for consumer use.
It cannot be positively known without genetic testing of the soy that will be used as a raw ingredient. However, organic labeling assures that the food does not contain any genetically manipulated ingredients if the label states 100% Organic. If the label just indicates that the food is organic, it can contain GMO sourced raw ingredients.
The issue of GMO identification is that pollination of soy Crop A that is GMO cannot be contained from contaminating soy Crop B possibly many miles away since pollen is carried by insects, birds, the wind, farm equipment, humans and other animals. It is delusional to assume that soy grown in open fields with over 90% being GMO soy that cross-contamination cannot occur.
There is a common mindset of associating soy with Asian diets and then associating Asian diets with being the epitome of health. Unfortunately that mindset is in error. Soy is being promoted in the United States as an alternative to other proteins and fats thus causing overindulgence of a food item that may otherwise be innocuous when consumed at lower levels. Now that we have tofu, veggie burgers, soy milk, soy nut snacks and soy everything, it is raising the likelihood of physiological issues arising from soy consumption.
Soy acts in the human body much like the hormone estrogen. This can cause problems with hypothyroidism, may be contributing to some breast cancers, may cause immune system compromise, and many of the issues are more common in women (maybe because soy is considered by many women to be a health or diet food).
The exact mechanism of every food intolerance is not known. Milk Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI) is an intolerance in that it does not provoke an immune response, but there is not much known about it. MSPI can cause eosinophilic inflammation of the intestines in which large numbers of white blood cells congregate at an intestinal area producing swelling and irritation. Symptoms can run the gamut of mild gastric upset to severe as in bloody diarrhea.
With soy protein intolerance there is a reaction occurring in the gut due to exposure by eating foods that have soy proteins. The exact mechanism of every food intolerance is not known. For allergies it is usually the proteins that trigger a reaction. For intolerance it can be any part of the offending food that triggers a reaction. For lactose intolerance the mechanism is known in that the body does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase to metabolize the milk sugar lactose. Simple supplementation for those with lactose intolerance of the enzyme lactase may be sufficient to resolve symptoms. There is no real treatment for other food intolerance issues other than eliminating the offending foods from the diet entirely. Some experiment to discover the threshold of consumption at which symptoms appear, but for optimal heath elimination is the goal.
Anything on the label with the word soy in it needs to be completely abstained from, but there are other label ingredients to avoid that do not contain the word soy such as shoyo sauce, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), tofu, tempeh, miso, yuba, miso, tamari, edamame, and teriyaki. Be aware of the ingredients of all Asian foods since soy is a very common ingredient. Also consider sources of vegetable ingredients that can have soy as a raw ingredient such as vegetable gum, hydrolyzed plant protein, vegetable broth, isolated vegetable protein, isolates, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, methylcellulose, vegetable starch or fat and vegetable protein.
Be on the lookout for shoyo sauce, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), tofu, tempeh, miso, yuba, miso, tamari, edamame, teriyaki, meat alternatives, Natto, lecithin and Okara. Consider as well that many vegetable matter ingredients can be derived from soy such as vegetable gum, hydrolyzed plant protein, vegetable broth, isolated vegetable protein, isolates, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, methylcellulose, vegetable starch or fat, and vegetable protein.
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that soy be listed on labels as soy or soya, or that it be listed at the end of the ingredients with the declaration that the product contains soy.
Tofu is made from soy curd and has the texture and consistency similar to that of a soft cheese. It is often used in recipes as a meat substitute and is also used in pasta and other recipes to replace higher fat ingredients. It is a commercially available food product that comes in three basic consistencies of firm, soft and silken.
Soy sauce is the fermented juice of soybeans that is dark and very salty. It is a common flavoring used in Asian recipes. It has a very rich and distinct flavor. Soy sauce is a common condiment used in many households. Soy sauce may already be used as an ingredient in processed food products or it may be added to homemade recipes. It is made by fermentation of soy, certain roasted grains such as barley, rice or wheat and yeast.
Miso is a seasoning paste made in similar manner as soy sauce in that soy, grains and yeast are fermented in a process to create the paste. Like soy sauce, miso has a distinctive flavor. The color and flavor ranges from dark to white based on the soy and grains used to make it. Miso may already be in the recipe of a processed food product or can be purchased to use at home as a seasoning for homemade recipes.
Soy lecithin is made from the oil of soybeans by both mechanical and chemical processing. Soy is a cheap crop used to produce an emulsifier that is used in many processed foods. Since it is made from the oil of soybeans it is considered not to produce an allergic response due to not containing soy proteins. However, those who suffer food intolerance may still manifest symptoms since it may be more than the proteins of an offending food that may be causing the problem.
Vegetarian products such as veggie burgers, tofu burgers, vegetarian chili, vegetarian hot dogs, vegetarian sausage, many Asian food recipes, soy milk, soy flour, soy yogurt, salad dressings, Natto, almost all vegetarian meat alternative products, soy chips and extended products that contain meat and soy that is mixed to â€œextendâ€ the finished product.