Soybeans are in the legume family – which includes peas, lentils, peanuts, kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans and so on. Legumes are very good sources of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Soy is primarily associated with Tofu, which is made from condensed soy milk. The condensed milk or the resulting curd is hand pressed into blocks which should be refrigerated. It is gluten free and has low calorific content. But soybeans are hard to digest. Cooking these beans takes a long time too. They should be cooked into soft consistency and can be used in several cuisines - for thickening too.
An overreaction by the immune system of the body which works as a self defence mechanism triggers the production of antibodies called immunoglobulins when it thinks that the food substances as invading to harm the body. These antibodies in turn release chemicals which when they start passing through the bloodstream causes reactions adversely. This is called as an allergy. Soy allergy is a food allergy.
These allergens can throw up allergic symptoms when soy or any products of soy is eaten by an individual. Symptoms can include
People who get these symptoms – however mild they may be – should consult an Allergist and undergo several tests to confirm the type of allergen and the severity for the doctor to prescribe medication if any and get treatment.
Patients who are already suffering from any other allergy and specifically with asthma can have an increased risk of this kind of allergic reactions.
Children, as they grow up and the immune system becomes stronger, can outgrow this allergy to a certain extent.
Strictly avoiding all Soy products in all forms (and they are many) may be the only way to prevent allergic reactions in the future.
Soy is an ingredient found in many processed foods and also in infant or baby formulae. Hence care should be taken to avoid these too.
Once you approach an allergist, he will record the family medical history, as several questions on the allergic reactions and will conduct few tests to confirm the allergy.
Skin prick test: A drop of the allergen which is suspected to have created the allergic reactions is put on the skin and pushed into the skin and tested for results. If the indication is a positive one to the allergens, the skin shows reddishness, and there will be a small swelling. Also, one more type of skin test called the intradermal skin test where a small amount of the allergen is injected underneath the skin is also conducted if need be.
Blood test: Is undertaken to check the antibodies in the blood stream. This can confirm the diagnosis.
Food challenge test: The individual is given the suspected allergen in small amounts and the reactions tested and recorded.
Elimination diet: the suffering individual will be advised to stop eating the suspected food for a couple of weeks and then the allergist slowly re-introduces the foods in the diet, monitoring and recording the symptoms.
Finally the doctor will advise total avoidance of the soy & its products from your diet if the condition and the allergic reactions repeatedly occur.