You may think that diarrhea, nausea and runny nose symptoms are normal, but they’re not! While occasional gut and respiratory distress happens to everyone, frequent bouts of stomach upset may mean you have a food intolerance. Maybe you’ve tried to eliminate dairy products or gluten, thinking that would help. Cutting out a food you are allergic or intolerant to should alleviate most symptoms. Have you found relief? If not, you may have a soy intolerance.
What foods contain soy?
Soy is one of those ingredients that is frequently found in many foods, but may go unnoticed by most people. Soy is often used in Asian cuisine, but it is also widely found in vegan and vegetarian dishes as a meat replacer. Here is a list of other products that contain soy:
- Soy sauce
- Soy protein (often seen in soy-based protein powders), protein bars
- Soy flour
- Soy cheese, soy milk, soy yogurt
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
- Processed meats
- Low-fat peanut butter
- Vitamin E supplements
Soy is one of the top 8 allergens and must be identified on the product label, so that can be helpful to people with a soy intolerance. Here are some other words to look for on food labels that tell you soy may be present in that product:
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Vegetable gum, broth, or starch
How can I find out if I have a soy intolerance?
If you suspect you have reactions to soy in your diet, make sure you talk to your doctor about testing for a soy intolerance. Remember, food intolerances may trigger things like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, cough, wheezing, fatigue, and other ambiguous symptoms. A soy intolerance may give you symptoms over the course of several days. A soy allergy will create an immediate and potentially life-threatening allergic response. Make sure you and your doctor can identify whether you have a soy allergy or intolerance. A food intolerance test for IgG can also help you find out if you have that sensitivity.
What should I do if I have a soy intolerance?
As with other food intolerances, the best way to treat a soy intolerance is to avoid foods that contain soy. You should also make sure that you understand how your food is prepared. At home, you have the power to control what goes into your meals, but make sure the rest of your family (or whoever cooks for you) knows your dietary needs and knows how to cook soy-free.
When out at restaurants, alert the wait staff that you have a soy intolerance. There may be some cases, however, where avoidance of soy is impossible in the restaurant setting, so it is your job to educate yourself and choose restaurants that align with your dietary needs.
If eliminating Asian cuisine or other soy-containing foods seems daunting, rest assured that some soy-based foods can be reintroduced into the diet. If you have a soy intolerance, we have some tips as to how you can eliminate and reintroduce soy-based food into the diet. Remember: Those with a soy allergy, should never consume soy-based foods.
Tips on Reintroducing Soy-Containing Foods into Your Diet
- Eliminate all foods that contain soy. Use the list above as a guide on foods to eliminate. Don’t forget to look for “hidden soy” keywords on the food labels!
- Make notes as to how your symptoms change after eliminating soy.
- Slowly reintroduce one soy-based product into the diet and assess if your symptoms improve, worsen, or stay the same after adding that food in. If that product gives you symptoms, cut it out of the diet.
- Continue adding one soy-based product in every few weeks. You may find that some soy-products are better-tolerated than others.
By using the soy reference list above and following the soy reintroduction steps we laid out, you may be able to manage your soy intolerance through diet alone. Always consult your doctor or Registered Dietitian for more personalized nutrition care.