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Soy: Allergies and Options

It is a topic of great interest, fear and confusion all at once: SOY! To clear up the confusion of the soy allergy and about soy in general, we bring this article to you!

Traditionally, soy has been used in Asian and Japanese cultures as a condiment. Something you include as part of a meal that is loaded with protein, fat, and immune enhancing properties. Nowadays, people include soy as the main part of their meal. Soy has also been added to many commercial products including infant formulas, milks, cheeses, and other packaged products as a stabilizer or enhancer.

Unfortunately, as a result of this, people have developed allergies and intolerances to soy. It usually begins with the introduction of a soy-based formula. Soy allergies may develop when a child is switched to a soy-based formula after an allergic reaction to a milk-based formula.

Even though it is not established which components of soy cause allergies, there are some factors to be mindful of. The way that the soybean is grown, harvested, processed, stored, and prepared in the kitchen can affect how allergenic it is. Raw soybeans are the most allergenic, while old-fashioned fermented products (miso, tempeh, natto, shoyu, and tamari) are the least. Modern soy protein products processed by heat, pressure, and chemical solvents lose some of their allergens, but not all.

People allergic to soy protein face constant danger. Hidden soy exists in thousands of everyday foods, cosmetics, and industrial products such as inks, cardboards, and paints.

Unfortunately, most of the soy used in the commercial industry is non-organic, genetically modified, and so fractionated out from its original form, that it is no longer a food.

If we look at the traditional fermented forms of soy and choose to eat them in moderation – people, even those with deemed allergies, can actually enjoy soy foods as they are meant to be enjoyed, as a condiment, garnish, or accent to a meal. It’s not about eating a slab of soy chicken or TVP (textured vegetable protein).

Here are some of the few low-allergen types of soy that can be enjoyed in moderation if you choose. These are the types of soy that are traditionally used in ancient cultures and should be consumed as both organic and non-GMO.


Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor. Enjoy in stir-fries, on sandwiches, ground up into “burgers” or just marinated and grilled as is!

(NOTE: Looking for ideas on how to add more Tempeh to your diet? Look no further with our Tempeh Strawberry Salad recipe. Check it out and let us know what you think!)


Miso is a fermented soybean paste with a salty, almond butter-like texture. Make miso soup, put it in a salad dressing or marinate.


Natto is a fermented soybean with a sticky texture and strong, cheese-like flavor.

Tamari, Braggs or Nama Shoyu

These are traditionally made by fermenting soybeans, salt, and enzymes. Tamari is the modern, healthy version of soy sauce. It is pure, gives great flavor, can be purchased in low-sodium formats, and is wheat free! These are great in salad dressings, sauces, marinades.

Edamame (whole soybeans) can be found on this list. They are not fermented, but they are also left in their natural form. Be sure also to buy these organic. They make an excellent snack with some sea salt! Or buy them shelled and load them into a salad or cooked vegetable dish!

Soy can easily be eliminated from the diet as well, especially when other nutrient-rich foods such as beans, legumes, greens, nuts, and seeds are consumed.

However, if you are looking for some alternatives to soy milks, cheeses, and yogurts, choose from coconut based (yogurt), nut based (almond milk, cashew cheese), grain-based (rice milk) and even traditional miso can be replaced with chickpea or barley miso.

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