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.