SOY ALLERGY INFORMATION
From the Mayo Clinic:
“In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to list the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies.The eight foods included in food allergy labeling account for an estimated 90 percent of allergic reactions. These eight foods are:
Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
Also from the Mayo Clinic:
“Soy, a product of soybeans, is one of the common foods that can cause allergies in children. In many cases soy allergy starts with a reaction to a soy-based infant formula. Although most children outgrow soy allergy by age 3, soy allergy may persist and is becoming more common in adults.”
From the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:
“Soy (also called soya, soy bean, or glycine max), is among the most common foods that cause allergic reactions. Researchers are still not completely certain which component of soy causes the reactions, but so far 15 allergenic proteins have been found in soy. Soy milk, soy flour, soy grits, soy meal, soy sauce, soy oil and more! Soy has become one of the most frequent and common food additives in the modern diet, so avoiding soy can be very difficult for families. Not all soy products cause reactions. Some fermented soy foods are less allergenic than raw beans. Soybean oil (which does not contain protein) may not cause symptoms. It all depends on you and your personal allergies.
The most commonly reported symptoms seen with this kind of allergy include: atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), asthma, allergic rhinitis, anaphylactic shock and digestive symptoms. Other conditions including acne, canker sores and colitis are not uncommon.”
From the Cleveland Clinic:
“The common allergens are listed either within the ingredient list or after the list. For example, if a product contains natto, a food made with fermented soybean, the product's label should list the term 'soy' either after the term natto, or state 'contains soy' after the list of ingredients. The FDA currently does not require manufacturers to state if the food was processed in a facility that also processes the 8 common food allergens.
Anyone allergic to soy should avoid the following ingredients and foods:
Soy: in all forms, including soy flour, soy fiber, soy albumin
Soybean (curd and granules)
Soy protein and hydrolyzed soy protein
Soy nuts and soy sprouts
Soy sauce and shoyu sauce
Tofu and textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Here is an excellent overview of the myths and realities (and the difference between real soy and processed soy: by Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D.
SOY POLITICS INFORMATION
According to Michael Pollan:
“Americans now eat more soy than the Japanese or the Chinese do.”
“Soy isoflavones, found in most soy products, are compounds that resemble estrogen, and in fact bind to human estrogen receptors. But it is unclear whether these so-called phytoestrogens actually behave like estrogen in the body or only fool it into thinking they’re estrogen. Either way the phytoestrogens might have an effect (good or bad) on the growth of certain cancers, the symptoms of menopause and the functions of the endocrine system. Because of these uncertainties, the FDA has declined to grant GRAS ('generally regarded as safe’) status to soy isoflavones used as a food additive.”
According to Jill E. Schneider, Ph.D., Professor Behavioral Neuroscience, Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, who presents the most thorough collection of the literature, both for and against soy:
“The soy beans and the bean plants are 'natural,' but the products are unnatural.”
“The soy industry is a huge agribusiness. Most soy is sold by Archer Daniels Midland, a Fortune 500 company quite well known for receiving enormous subsidies ('corporate welfare') and price fixing….The soy lobby is one of the most powerful political lobbies, right on par with the meat and dairy lobbies.”
“Although diets rich in soy or soy-containing products appear safe and potentially beneficial, the long-term safety of high doses of soy isoflavone supplements is not yet known.”
According to Marion Nestle:
“Some studies find benefits, some find none, and others actually suggest that soy foods might cause the very health problems they are believed to prevent. Soybeans contain proteins found to reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. They also contain isoflavones that behave in the body like weak estrogen ('phytoestrogens'). Although isoflavones work with soy proteins to reduce blood cholesterol levels, they also act like estrogens–and estrogens are known to increase the risk of breast and other cancers in women.....Soy is a food, not an essential nutrient. Like any food, you can eat it if you like it, but you don’t have to if you don’t.”
DIRECT LINKS TO QUOTED RESOURCES AND MORE:
FIRST, READ YOUR LABELS.
You'll start to see that processed soy additives - whether in the form of lechitin, oil, flour or otherwise - are in EVERYTHING. Bread, chocolate, bars, chips, pancake mixes, cereals, pizzas - you name it, it's there. Certainly a bit of soy (edamame, tofu, etc.) here and there should be fine for most anyone, but the majority of Americans are consuming processed soy in nearly every food product. While a whole foods diet - grains, vegetables, fruits - is the number one choice for anyone trying to live a healthier lifestyle, the fact is that the majority of Americans who are rushing to make ends meet by purchasing pre-made foods to feed their families often do not have the luxury of time or money for such a lifestyle. Thus, they are consuming these additives, often unknowingly, all the while supporting an industry that is subsidized by the government, that allows food manufacturers to make their food cheaper, and that puts the health of millions of Americans at risk.