Reader question… “Why don’t you buy products with soy? I’ve seen articles that talk about how you don’t buy it, but I can’t find out why. Thanks, in advance! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!” —from C.

Reader question… “I’m curious why you avoid soy products. I try to eat as many natural foods as I can vs. processed foods, but I’ve always thought soy products were good for me. Is there an allergy issue for you?” —from D.

The short answer is that I have a life-threatening allergy to soy. For the long answer, read through to the end of this post.

Accidental ingestion of, or exposure to, soy can result in an anaphylactic reaction that could kill me, so obviously I think of soy and all its derivatives the way most people think of poison, and as something I really, really need to avoid. And that isn’t as easy as it sounds, because soy is EVERYWHERE. Especially in processed foods… sixty to seventy percent of processed foods contain some form of soy, and even a label reader like me will find it almost impossible to keep up with all of the different names for the many forms of soy.

I have eaten pure soy only once, and I don’t ever want to eat it again. My mother and I went together to the grand opening of a new supermarket, and one of the free sample products handed to everyone as they went into the store was a small packet of soy nuts. I remember that we had been shopping all morning and I was hungry, so I ate my packet of nuts right away… and I also ate most of the packet that my mother had gotten because she did not like them. Those soy nuts just about killed me, but the reaction was so severe, it did me the favor of revealing soy as the problem allergen that had been bothering me for years. Even at that time we did not eat much in the way of processed foods, but apparently I had been ingesting just enough soy from a few processed products (like cereals) to keep me feeling “not quite right” all the time.

After we realized that the violent allergic attack I experienced that day had come from eating the soy nuts, I started reading labels so I could eliminate any hidden soy from my diet, and I began to feel better almost immediately. Now I eat a from scratch, all natural diet exclusively, but it is still very difficult to avoid soy, and because soy has been promoted as a natural product, it is especially difficult to avoid if you’re trying to eat healthily. I read labels and try anything new very cautiously, but here are a few examples of ways I have still been accidentally exposed:

  • Newspapers, magazines, and books are often printed with soy ink. Newspaper ink in particular will rub off on your hands, and that’s enough soy exposure to cause a problem.
  • Many cardboard boxes use a soy product for the binder that may leach out into the food contents of the box.
  • Cosmetics and beauty products almost always have some form of soy, and since they are put directly on the skin, they can create a serious soy exposure.
  • Many natural foods are packaged in the same processing plants as soy products and cross contamination often occurs.
  • The new allergy product labeling laws have loopholes that allow soy to sometimes be left off the label. The ingredients in proprietary formulas, for example, STILL don’t have to be listed on the label, even if they contain soy or another allergen… or so several major companies have told us recently.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It isn’t easy to avoid soy, but it is something I personally would do even if I did not have this allergy. Apparently there is a huge difference between fermented soy and the type of soy that is being put into processed food. More and more research is raising questions about the safety and wisdom of eating this type of soy and recording the resulting health issues for pregnant women, babies, and cancer survivors, to name a few. Nearly thirty percent of the population is now allergic to soy. If you’re interested in reading about any of the research results or any of the warnings against soy, a Google search for “reasons to avoid soy” will provide you with a lot of food for thought.

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Whoa! I had no idea people could be so allergic to soy. I’m glad that you figured out what was causing you problems.

That’s gotta be really frustrating, having to avoid certain paper products, boxes, and makeups, and especially certain foods.

Thanks for publicizing this topic, you’ve certainly educated me!


Thanks for the good information! I had no idea soy could cause so many problems. That doesn’t sound easy to deal with, but it sounds like you’ve figured out how to deal with it appropriately.


This needs to be out there about cancer survivors. Soy makes your hormones react, which most breast cancer survivors should avoid.

Thanks for putting a post on this.

Many lotions now have soy!

Linda A

I’ve only recently realized that I have a soy allergy. Your website provides some very valuable information and I thank you for that. I had not had any major reactions to soy until after I had minor surgery about two months ago. Since that time, I’ve had two extemely allergic reactions. My initial reaction was caused by newspaper ink, due in part to my new ‘couponing’ hobby. After realizing that soy was a common ingredient for inks, additional reactions to other products containing soy started to make sense. Again, thank you for sharing your research and experiences.


I’ve recently found that I have a soy sensitivity and now have to read every ingredient on the food labels. In the summer of 2007 I thought I would do something good for my body and change to soy milk and replace some of my protein with soy products. I turned out to be a living He.. for me. I love wraps but now make my own whole wheat tortilias, pitas, english muffins, and bread along with using soy-free tuna (yes, look at your label) and mayo. I don’t eat any samples handed out in stores unless I read the label. I’m still trying to find vitamins that do not use soy. If anyone knows of a soy-free campaign, let me know…I’m there.


I have been a vegetarian for 20+ years and ate a lot of soy.
During a 6 month period, I was under a lot of stress and actually upped my soy intake thinking i was eating healthier and would feel better.
I developed severe hives and ended up in the ER twice with my face swelled like a balloon. My lips and hands would swell and 2 allergists could not figure out why. I was put on steroids and suffered months of misery.

My doctor then suspected it could be soy and as soon as I gave it up, I got better! It is very very hard to be completely soy free as it is in so many products.
I mistakenly injested a small amount of it and had another attack, but have had none sense then.

People do not realize how serious this allergy can be. You can die from it. I have to carry an epi pen with me incase I injest some by accident and go into anaphylactic shock!

Thank you for your informative article! Soy is not something to be taken lightly by anyone!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Lisa, thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully in time more and more people will realize just how serious a soy allergy can be, and those of us with this allergy won’t have to work so hard just to find food we can safely eat. I am especially concerned about the foods that contain soy but do not have soy listed on their labels. The food manufacturers definitely would not incorrectly label something that contained even a trace of peanuts… I wonder why they feel they can do that with soy.

Briana W.

I am so relieved to find this site. I am 35 and it took my allergist over a year and a half to figure out that I am also highly allergic to soy and shellfish. Avoiding shellfish is a breeze, however soy is a nightmare. EVERYTHING contains soy and after 5 trips to the ER with “hyperventilation syndrome” as my diagnosis (brilliant ER doctors), undiagnosed asthma and POTS syndrome, I have now figured it out and I am MAD.


I recently ate some talapia, it was frozen, and the first time I ate it I felt funny, and my throat felt weird. I thought it was the bread crumbs that I put on it, well I had it again last night with no bread crumbs…. my throat felt like it was closing in, I took some benedryl, and felt a little better…. I went on the website of the fish product, and they were fed “all natural grains and soy….” I guess I now have to be careful of what the things I eat, have eaten….

Sherry L.

I am allergic to soy and found out quite by accident also. My child at the time could not consume milk so we used soy…I kept seeing all this HEALTH stuff about it so I put about a TBS in a cup (it does stink and I didn’t think I could stomach it)…I took a little sip and immediately my lips, mouth and throat were itching…I had already learned what this meant because I have Oral Allergy to raw fruits and veggies sometimes (which we now think is the stuff they put on them).

I called a Poison Control and a nurse friend and learned what was happening…BOTH said, how close are you to ER and is someone there to drive you, that was scary…I opted to take double doses of Benadryl and slept for quite some time. Poison Control called me back to check on me and told me the next time I could have a MORE severe attack.

Once I eliminated soy (as much as I could so quickly) I noticed that a ton of other problems I had disappear…esp my constant grogginess when I would sit still (driving esp).

I am still learning and reading 10 years later, which is how I found this site :D


I have been vegetarian for 25 years and this was wonderful until soy was touted as a good protien. I too fell for the hype by manufacturers that vegetarians should eat soy to get proper protien. WRONG! After drinking a second soy chai, I felt so sleepy I could barely manage to get home from a coffeehouse. Not only that I was falling asleep everywhere and thought it was old age. Then I went to the doctor and he found blood in my stool and elevated blood pressure. I had always had low. Then I remembered that I was concerned about my hair falling out. Also my brain seemed to be scrambled and like the rest I thought it was old age. Then one day surfing the net I found a blog with younger people with my same symptoms and they were all allergic to soy. I went to my pantry and threw away tofu, soy flour, soy milk and everything I found to have soy in it. A few days later my hair stopped falling out, my blood pressure returned to normal and I no longer fell aspleep everywere. Best of all after another stool test, the blood had completely gone. That was several years ago and now I am dealing with soy in everything and it is getting tougher and tougher to find things without soy in it. If I eat just vegetables and fruits, I am okay.


When I eat out I have to watch for anything that might have soy in it. Soy causes me to have extreme gastroenteritis. For years doctors did not know what was wrong and treated me for everything from a virus to nerve problems. About 4 years ago we found that every time I had something with soy in it I would have an attack. After 47 years of suffering, I gladly read every label to keep from have this happen again. As the years have progressed more and more products have been added to the soy list. Even most brands of peanut butter are made with soy because the peanut oil sells for more than the soy oil.


I have found myself in a situation where I must avoid soy also. I am not allergic but was diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer in March of 2011. As a result, my oncologist advised me to avoid soy and products made with it. I didn’t realized how hard this would become until I started reading labels! Prior to this my diet had been good, I avoided high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, most preservatives. I tried to feed my family and myself a minimum of processed food. My local “regular” grocery does not stock even one jar of mayo with no soy (Wholefood only has one, at least they do have one though!). Have yet to find one loaf of whole wheat bread at Costco with no soy (again, Wholefoods is my answer there). I have even had a hard time finding multi vitamins without soy! Thankfully we do not eat out very often because I am sure soy is hidden everywhere in restaurant food. Thanks for the tips on avoiding soy, I truly appreciate it!


I was diagnosed with a soy allergy about a year ago. For me, it was never a situation including anaphylactic shock or upper respiratory issues (though I do have wicked seasonal allergies at times).

Let me clarify that, yes, I did have a classic allergy test. It wasn’t a sensitivity test.

My soy allergy manifests in extreme digestive discomfort, acid reflux, swelling of the intestines and bladder, nausea, painful cramps, and dizziness.

I have no had reactions (or only minor reactions) to highly refined soy bean oil (an oil that is without protein to react to allergically), soy fed meat, soy covered fruit, or small amounts of soy lecithin. I am about to discover for certain if I have a reaction soy fed meat today, Thanksgiving. I am carrying with me protection against reactions in the form of Dexilant.

I remember those first two weeks when I was strictly off any possible carriers of soy it was like an epiphany! My stomach, which had been permanently bloated, was now squishy and my body was healthier than it had ever been before.

Though my allergy is not life-threatening it is life affecting. And with my family history of breast cancer in play as well, I stay away not only for my current health but for my future health.


I too bought into the “soy is good for you” myth. Tried being a vegetarian and getting my protein from all sorts of replacement foods made with soy. Going through menopause at the time, I found that it brought on severe hot flushes along with steady hot flashes. Since quitting all obvious soy products, even the hot flashes have ceased. I also unsuccesfully tried numerous menopause problem solvers like estrogen, even yam cream and suffered the same severe hot flushes. So, yes, for me at least soy messes with my hormones.


Just to add another symptom as I didn’t see anyone posted as having this problem: I’m not allergic to soy in any kind of anaphylactic way, but has suffered with constant migraines for years. I recently discovered SOY as a trigger! It is so hard to avoid, but makes a big difference when I do. It’s very frustrating that it is considered “natural” so it can be in anything! I had to find all new beauty products as well. It’s everywhere!


While reading your article I was amazed at how many people have soy allergies. I am only now aware of how many products have soy in them due to a Diet Book I got from the Library. This Diet book wants you to eliminate 7 foods for 21 days to find out if you are having Food Intolerance (FI) to any of these foods. One of them was Soy. I said to myself that Soy wouldn’t be a problem to eliminate as I never eat Soy because I have Hypothyroidism which is suppose to affect hormones which affects the Thyroid. Much to my amazement, I started reading labels and could not believe all of the soy I have been putting into my body. How long ago soy has been added to these products and I have been eating it is a concern for me as after 20 years of a low dose of Synthoid my thyroid is out of whack and my doctor had to increase my Synthoid dosage. Now I am into searching for products and homemade recipes that are Soy Free. So along with allergies to Soy, I hope those with Thyroid problems will become aware of how many products contain Soy.