Stomach Pains: Tofu and Soy

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Soy products are used as a safe alternative to diary products, but for some people, eating soy can be an unpleasant experience. Stomach pains from tofu and soy are most likely related to a soy allergy. Tofu is textured soy protein that is used for cooking and substituting for cream, eggs and butter in various recipes. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that soy contains at least 15 different proteins that can cause an allergic reaction. Discontinue eating soy and tofu until you can be evaluated by your doctor.

Cause

A soy allergy is considered a common food allergy by MayoClinic.com. The immune system fails to recognize that the proteins in the soy are safe and quickly begins building an attack against them. The body creates specific antibodies called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, to fight off the soy proteins. These antibodies trigger a chain reaction in the body of various chemicals being released. One chemical in particular is histamine. Histamine is created by mast cells in soft tissue, such as the digestive tract.

Symptoms

The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person and typically form within a few minutes after consuming the tofu or soy product. The accelerated levels of histamine released in the intestines cause the lining of the digestive tract to become inflamed and irritated, causing cramping and pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common symptoms include hives, eczema, itching, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, wheezing, chest tightness, tingling in the lips, tongue or throat, dizziness and fainting.

Treatment

Once you’ve eaten tofu or soy, the only treatment for the stomach pain is to drink plenty of water and wait for your body to rid itself of the soy proteins. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that the most effective way to treat a soy allergy is to avoid consuming all soy-based products. Minor allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, skin rashes and nasal congestion may be treated with an antihistamine, according to MayoClinic.com. Talk with your doctor before using any medication to treat your condition.

Warning

MayoClinic.com warns that if you’re allergic to soy, you are at greater risk of developing a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis causes your entire body to experience an allergic reaction because of extreme levels of histamine. This sends your body into a state of shock and will require emergency medical attention. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, facial swelling, dizziness and hives.

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