Soy Sensitivity

Soy Sensitivity

Is this “health food” hurting your health?

Tofu, soy sauce, soy, milk, soy beans
Many people have a soy sensitivity that makes them sick as, um, heck! Others eat soy with no problems???
© Can Stock Photo

Soy sensitivity (also called soy intolerance) affects many people. Most people don’t even know what soy is.  Yet many people suffer from the effects soy has on their digestive tract. Many people have a soy sensitivity and don’t even know it.

Soy is in all kinds of foods either as soy bean oil, as a meat filler, as a meat substitute (like tofu).

Soy can be found in MANY OTHER FOODS!

Note that soy isn’t the the only food people have trouble with. Find out more about “ Food Intolerance.


Is soy sensitivity the same as a soy allergy?

No, a soy allergy is extremely common (one of the 8 most common food allergens), and like most food allergies  a soy allergy is dangerous. The difference between a soy sensitivity and a soy allergy is how your body responds to soy. When you have a soy allergy, your body’s immune system responds to proteins in the soy and gives you allergy symptoms. Soy sensitivity doesn’t cause an immune response.

Some common soy allergy symptoms are:

  • Long used as a health food by some, soy milk makes ME miserable and sick.
    Long used as a health food by some, soy milk makes ME miserable and sick.
    © Can Stock Photo

    Hives or other skin rashes

  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Swollen lips, mouth or throat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Abdominal pain and/or diarrhea
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis (a kind of shock that can be fatal)

and more. If you even suspect a soy allergy, you should be seeking medical help NOT web help. But this page is about soy sensitivity.

So what is soy sensitivity or soy intolerance?

If you have a soy sensitivity, your body has trouble breaking down the proteins and sugars in soy. Any undigested soy sugars and proteins move through your digestive system. Eventually they get to the colon where they begin to cause you problems like diarrhea, cramping and trapped gas. Your bowels can be sensitive to the soy proteins themselves, which can cause the IBS symptoms I just mentioned. However, I think more often, bacteria in your gut devour any undigested proteins and sugars. This creates lots of gas, and can cause spasms and diarrhea…

And misery!

Soy sensitivity can develop over time too. I used to be able to eat and drink soy products. Now the soymilk is like poison to me. I can still get away with small amounts of tofu or soy sausage. Too much and I’m doomed.

What is soy anyway?

Soy is made from soy beans. Like most beans, soy can cause abdominal gas. Soy oil and ground soy bean powder was added to many other foods. As soy milk and tofu, soy has become a non-animal health food for many people. Many people digest it with no problems. In fact it’s been used as food in some Asian countries for centuries. Maybe the people of or from that region have adapted to eating soy so they don’t suffer as much from soy sensitivity.

What are the symptoms of soy sensitivity?

An empty toilet paper roll with Plan B written on it. Time to try a soy alternative.
Maybe you need to try another milk and/or meat substitute.

For me (sorry for being indelicate) the first symptom is large amounts of intestinal gas. This happens particularly with soy milk. Next comes the cramping, abdominal pain and diarrhea. It’s like lactose intolerance only for me it’s much worse. I’m actually more sensitive to soy milk than regular milk!

Here is a list of the more common soy sensitivity symptoms:

Unlike most allergies, people with soy sensitivity can usually tolerate small amounts of food that they are sensitive to. You may be able to get away with the amount of soy in salad dressing for instance. Other people have to cut out soy all together to get relief from soy sensitivity symptoms.

How does soy sneak into your mouth?

Soy is in all kinds of foods and food additives. Here is a partial list. Some of them are obvious. You’ll have to check labels as best you can for others.

These foods are made of soy:

  • Soy flour
  • Soy nuts
  • Soy milk
  • Soy bean sprouts
  • Tofu
  • Soy protein
  • Textured vegetable protein (TPV)
  • Soy sauce

These foods often or always contain soy:

  • Miso
  • Soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Vegetable broth
  • Many infant formulas
  • Some cereals and baked goods

These food ingredients sometimes contain soy:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Natural and artificial flavoring (Some may be soy based)
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch
  • Some Vegetable oil

Could my baby have a soy sensitivity to baby formula?

A young boy leaning back on the toilet looking sick.
Is your kid sick because of a soy sensitivity??? Something to think about.

YES! Many babies don’t do well on soy formula or soy in general.

Many mothers find out the hard way that soy was the reason that baby was so cranky, and had so much diarrhea, gas and gas pains. The trouble is that soy has been in most baby formulas for so long that people rarely question it.

Soy was originally used in baby formula over 100 years ago, and has been recommended for babies that can’t handle cow’s milk. However many people with soy sensitivity also have a lactose sensitivity or lactose intolerance.

In my opinion, nature made the perfect food for babies… And mom’s make it for free!

Is there a treatment for soy sensitivity?

Like most food sensitivities, soy sensitivity is best treated by avoiding problem food. Avoiding soy can be difficult though, since it’s in so many foods. As always, I recommend a competent dietitian or other medical professional involved in dietary needs. Get help when you need it! For more info see the Food Intolerance section or see the links below.

155 Replies to “Soy Sensitivity”

  1. I have developed an Soy intolerance and had diarrhea on and off, but chronic (constant) diarrhea for the past 3 1/2 years. I tested positive for having an allergy to Soy by an allergist. Soy has 75 different names and is also in the food given to all pork, some chicken and beef. It is some OTC meds, toothpaste, soda pop, bread , pretty much anything processed. Question how to stop companies from using it. It is used as a preservative or a binder. Why? What else? To save companies money.

  2. I came to this article after making a super delicious vegan quiche where the base was tofu then it had vegan bacon bits in it that were made of TVP! It was so delicious that I had more than one helping and boy did I suffer! Had to do some twisting yoga poses to help digestion and drink hot tea. It eventually subsided but I was definitely feeling ill for a couple of hours. I think I could eat this again, I would just have to make sure to have a little bit and not have it be the only thing for my meal, supplement the meal with fibrous side dishes!

  3. i just had edamame beans which apparently are the same as soy beans. i cannot remeber if i have a sensitivity or an allergic to soy but i know it’s one of them. My stomach is really hurting now and i don’t know what to do

  4. What can be done about the fact that soy gluten and dairy are in every food in our country. I have celiacs and cant touch any of these three ingredients. Also fake sugars. They still dont label correctly. And even foods that never had soy in them before have it now. Olive bars in the grocery stores that should have nothing but OLIVE OIL have SOY OIL. Every restaurant cooks with soy oil. How are they getting aeay with this when so many people cant eat soy?

    1. Yes, It’s getting more and more stranger as to where the soy may dwell. My wife has developed Gluten-Intolerance over the past few years (medically confirmed) yet there seems to be another culprit in the equation that may be the cause of her continuing discomfort (digestive tract) and possibly skin disorder (eczema like- seborrheic dermatitus).

      She can no longer eat eggs without digestive consequences although we’ve been consuming store-bought organic eggs for the last two years approx.
      Well, with a bit of on-line research I discover that the chickens that lay both store-bought organic eggs and regular eggs are mostly fed a diet of —you guessed it— SOY. And this is the nastier GMO stuff.

      Chickens that lay Omega enriched eggs are on a diet of flaxseed, not soy, so you may stand a better chance of consuming these types of eggs. But the soy laden eggs are out there (ubiquitously) because they’re the cheapest to produce and as such find their way into all kinds of food products such as: cakes and pastries, pasta, mayonaise… just read the labels for eggs, egg yolks, egg whites, egg powder etc, etc, etc.

      She’ll be making an appointment with her doctor next week but the eggs are now off the table.

  5. I have a specific question and I’m hoping someone may be able to help me. I can drink:eat soy products like edelame, soy milk, soy burgers etc..with no problem but if I ingest any heated soy sauce it sends me running to the bathroom. I can not eat or make any Asian food with heated soy sauce. I can have cold soy sauce with avocado rolls or dumplings just fine but not heated soy sauce. Does anyone know if there is some sort of chemical breakdown that happens that then makes my stomach get so bad??

    1. I have the exact same thing! Cold soy sauce with sushi, edamame, tofu, etc., all fine! Only heated soy sauce, like when making stirfry, and I am immediately emptying out and not feeling good at all! Oh well, I guess it’ll be Braggs liquid aminos from now on…

  6. Urgent help required,
    I have the following symptoms and at my wits end I have everything, gas, bloated stomach, diarrhoea, sickness.

    I can’t seem to eat anything but I’m in the bathroom with the sickness and diarrhoea, I don’t know which foods etc to leave out as I have chronic I.B.S. This is destroying my life as I can’t go out now nor take my child to school.

    I gave taken every prescribed tablets know to man and I’m so fed up with it all.

    Please can anyone help me with ideas.

    Thank you

    1. My son has stomach ache caused by unknown allergies. His paediatrician has asked us to do a diet free of soya, dairy, egg & wheat and keep a three week diary of food & symptoms. May be worth a try

    2. Get tested for food allergies. It’s likely that a milk, soy, nut, or egg allergy is causing the symptoms. Without a doubt, it’s causing your IBS. I went through that as well and mine turned out to be a milk allergy. I also have a rash on my back, hives, a runny nose, itchy mouth, shortness of breath, and palpitations if I have only a teaspoon of butter.

      Check labels–so many things, including margarine, have milk or soy in them. Look for casein, which is milk protein. It’s also sometimes called “whey” in the ingredient list.

    3. Medicinal or recreational cannabis helped me out big time with the symptoms you describe. I totally understand its not an option for everyone, it will have to depend on your employment and lifestyle situation but having a small amount in the evening changed my stomach woes a lot for me (for the better!).

    4. If you’re taking prescribed tablets to correct the problem you can rest assured they have either gluten dairy or soy in them. Every pill medication and vitamin has one or the other. Have you been checked for celiacs disease?

  7. I found ironic was Bigelow’s Lemon Ginger tea labeled as a probiotic has soy lecithin. Read your labels it’s in vitamins, cough drops and to much more. Soy is a useless cheap filler in many foods, snacks and drinks. No reason other then cost.

    1. Plus, “Soy” is being artificially produced in labs using chemicals which the mfgs refuse to identify. Proceed with caution.

  8. So This is my first time posting anything, but had to share my miracle! I have chrons disease since I’m 12 years old I’m now way into my 50’s as we get older we become intolerant to certain foods. Through the yrs dairy became a problem .. so soy milk seem to be the answer processed soy products, veggie burgers, ice cream, I was always weak. Sick fuzzy headed drinking lots of caffeine to get by. I start my day with coffee and yes soy creamer. So I would wake up thinking oh I feel good tday after one cup of coffee, I feel weak, I can’t digest it, the list goes on.i waspoisioning myself every day. I was about ready to give up!! I was always sick!! To the point where I felt like I was dying.. I kept praying for a miracle. One day my husband comes across Dr. Gundry. He talks about processed soy products!! I stopped soy!! Never dreamed in a million years it was that. It’s been a month now!! I have so much energy, I did a years wort of house wrk in a week, I got so bad I could only wrk. Go to bed!! Dr. Gundry is awesome!! And I’ve been using his simple red supplements. I’m here to tell you!! Miracles happen!!! It all most killed me. Processed GMO soy is very debilitating for people. And lots of us can not digest or tolerate it. I did go gluten free it wrked not because I’m gluten intolerant (protein in the flour) but most of those products are also soy free. I didn’t drink coffee at the time Lectins are the plant protein in soy products. I’m not sensitive to gluten . Gluten is the protein in the flour people can not digest. Lectins are the protein in legumes (soy beans)I really hope this helps someone. It changed my life!!

  9. I’m unsure if I have a soy allergy; I don’t break out in rashes or have difficulty breathing, but I do know I don’t react well to large amounts of it. I can’t even eat soybeans at all because the smell alone makes me vomit. Soy milk gives me horrid nausea, headaches, gas, and sometimes vomiting. Protein bars, tofu, etc. make me feel lethargic and give me cramps.

    1. I had soy all yesterday and I was so poorly! I had a banging headache and before bed I had menstrual like cramps and abdominal pain. I was so frightened I had no idea what was wrong with me. Then I looked online and some guy posted that soy milk really made his girlfriend ill and messed with her hormones and triggered migraines. I’m still in shock that it had such a terrible effect on my body despite only have it for one day! So glad I know about it now. Thank you for sharing, I don’t feel so alone now!

    2. There is a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. You sound like you have an intolerance not an allergy ?

      1. There are two types of allergic reaction – IgE and non-IgE. I’d say it’s still allergy, just non-IgE (delayed and not involving the immune system)

  10. Hi. Often after eating mostly Asian food (Chinese, sometimes Japanese and Thai, as well as some other food), I get almost immediate and very bad stomach pains and diarrhea. Often running nose and very watery eyes (like crying) are part of it too. It happens sometimes within 10 minutes of eating the food. I just had the reaction after eating one piece of pizza from Costco. I can never figure out what it is but have wondered if its soybean oil or sesame oil. I read the label on the pizza and there’s soybean oil. So thinking i may have been figured it out. Does that sound right to you? Also, does it sound like allergy or intolerance?


        1. I was admitted into hospital last Saturday with severe stomach pain on the rights side and I am too embarrassed to tell you abut the bowel problem and the terrible headache on the right side of my forehead and this coupled up with back pain made the doctor on the phone think I had a condition of the spine which he thought would if confirmed result in surgery. What a day it was with all the tests and four X-rays. it turned out that I did not have the condition but I did one thing all week previous to all this, I replaced cow’s milk with soya milk for a whole week and it appears that this soya milk brought about the terrible systems. As I have stopped now with each day I feel better. I think that my body was reacting to the soya and now feel scared of it.

        2. I eat sushi all the time and avoid soy because I pooped “sand” the last time. I haven’t eaten soy as a dip in at least 10 years and had habatchi with the family last Friday completely forgetting about my soy issue. I have had abdominal cramping and pain since, it’s Tuesday :( Sipping Coke helps for a min, pepto helps for about a minute. Trying to flush it out with water now – I can’t eat hardly at all and Thanksgiving is Thursday :(

  11. Thank you for this information.

    My question is about firm tofu specifically…. I read that firm tofu can cause less or no GI issues because it is fermented so much more.

    Does that mean it *wont* cause issues or it’s just less likely to? Have you ever had issues with firm tofu?

    I thought i was OK with it but I’m wondering if it’s the cause of my horrible cramping and stomach pain. I cooked a package of Nasoya organic firm tofu on thurs night, ate half the package for dinner and the other half for lunch the next day.

    1. I don’t have a science answer. Just my thoughts. TOFU IS SOY CURD. More fermenting makes for denser curd. I don’t see how that would make it less of a problem if you have trouble with soy. One way to find out is to stop it for a few days. If your troubles go away and then you eat it again and get sick, that points to tofu or soy being the problem. Not a pleasant method to find out though. I suppose you could have an allergy test if you didn’t want the home detective method though.

    2. Firm tofu is the same as soft, it’s just had much more of the water squeezed out. So the proportion of soy to water is different. Firm tofu thus has more texture, soft is more towards pudding.
      Tofu is not fermented, by the way. Tofu is made with fresh soymilk, and a coagulating agent (like a salt) is put in it to make it firm up.
      If you are trying soymilk, be aware that many brands add a lot of other ingredients to make it more “milk-like.” So make sure to get fresh soymilk if you’re trying to determine sensitivities. If you want to try making it on your own in order to try it out pure, it’s not too difficult, and the flavor is much more wonderful.
      Fermented tofu is something else, you can buy in Asian groceries. An acquired taste.

  12. Thanks for the article- I have had nausea and on and off questionable bowels for a while. Blood tests showed nothing but now I’m starting to think it could be soy (I drink soy milk in my coffee) and recently have had severe nausea the day after having a soy latte both days. Can it take that long to feel the nausea from it? I used to be fine so wonder if I’ve built up a sensitivity.

    1. Yes mine stomach cramps everyday now! I recently turned vegatarian and ate a lot of soy protein and tofu with soy my stomach hurts a lot and cramps for days..

  13. Hi, I thought I was absolutely helpless. My daughter, then 12 was having stomach pain/nauseau and diarreah after eating the following: meatballs, bread and milkshakes. For the life of me I could not figure out what common ingredient was in all the trigger foods for her. The labels all listed different ingredients. I have been wanting to thank you for two years now for your soy information. The multi-names of modified soy was her allergy. It was so hard to figure it all out, there’s no way we would have been able to without your help. It’s been two years now and she is in control of how she feels. As a parent the whole meatballs, milkshakes and english muffin allergy was absolutely baffling. Thank you for your help.

  14. I have no problem drinking shakes with whey protein. Bought the isolate protien mix and had a bad reaction. Thru it up within 5 min and throat hurts and swollen. Is there soy in the isolate protien mix? Even when I eat the soy protien bars my stomic hurts. I try to avoid soy it at all costs.

  15. My symptoms of soy or soybean poisoning are severe brain fog, fatigue, upset stomach and stomach spasms. But the biggest most mystifying symptom would be sudden bouts of uncontrollable crying and laughing. Anybody else have that? I hope someone knows what that is.

    1. I visited Japan on several occasions since 2010 and at home started eating soy products. I started having terrible Ibs
      And didnt sleep well for months i never put 2 and 2 together i cut my diet down to basics but still had problems i was using soy mayo and extra virgin olive oil on my salads.
      I would feel like laughing and crying and had no energy.I did some research and found that very few extra virgin olive oils aren’t fake usually cut with soy oil.

  16. Hi guys

    I drink soya milk and have eaten soy products with no noticeable effects in the past. Recently I started making my own miso soup from scratch. I’ve had miso soups many, many times over the years from restaurants with no issues, but every time I have my home made one within an hour my stomach begins bubbling with gases and within 2 hours I have diarrhoea.

    Could this be soy intolerance?

    It happens everytime without fail (I originally thought something else was causing it but now it’s clear that it’s the miso)

    I’m using organic unfermented miso paste and organic Clearspring tofu.

    Apart from that it’s just seaweed broth (from kumbu) and rehydrated seaweed pieces (
    Wakame). Has anyone experienced anything similar?

    1. Hi, I was reading about potential soy allergies. I never had soy milk until about 2 months ago. I’ve been drinking soy milk every day because I had a complete hysterectomy including removal of ovaries. I’m in surgical menopause, therfore I read that soy helped with building estrogen naturally in your body and helps relieve menapausal symptons. In the meantime about 1 week ago for a couple days I had nausea, lots of gas in my upper stomach. I thought maybe I had a stomach bug, wasnt sure. Lots of grumbling gas etc…Then it got better, now once again today, the whole day on and off, lots and lots of gas, nausea on and off. Very uncomfortable. I usually don’t get thsee symptoms at all. Very unlike me. I rarely have any stomach issues. I started to research anything new I was having and I looked up “Soy”, I’ve been having soy milk everyday for approximately 2 months. I am not going to have any more soy and see if I’m relieved of these symptoms.
      Hope this helps with my information…
      Thank you…

  17. Thirty years ago, I had a rast test run in Waco, Texas. It turned up 7 foods that I was cytotoxic to and soy was among that list. About 20 years later, I began to have stomach cramps within 30 minutes after eating desserts, bread, mayonnaise, frozen meals, etc. Then it was as if my stomach said, “You are not wanted here, GET OUT,” and it does, without warning and there is no stopping it. Recently, I have had allergy test run on these same foods along among others and they are negative. It seems that unless you are a credit lab, doctors will not accept the findings; but I would not ever have guessed the cause of my soy problem. I have found one or two dressings that work in place of mayo or salad dressing: “Amazin’ Mayo” by Walden Farms in NJ 07036. I do enjoy a mayo on deviled eggs, etc. I am out of the other one, so don’t remember, but it can be found in HEB in the vegetable refrigerated cabinet. It has a cheese in it beginning with the letters “g”. Sometimes, Pepcid will stop the cramps if they are not bad, but it will happen at a later date, which buys you time. Several rounds of immodium will stop it after a while, but you still pass the thick stuff that comes with it. (Sorry to be so graphic!) I do dread eating before going anywhere in the mornings because of it. It helps to keep boiled eggs in the frig in which I can eat in a hurry and don’t have any problems. Thanks for the information. I understand that men shouldn’t eat soy, anyway-now that is only hear-say.

      1. I just read that most chickens are fed soy in their diets except chickens that lay eggs – labeled As : Omega rich eggs

    1. I think some people can have other symptoms with a soy issue. Particularly if the have true allergies to it. Still, diarrhea is likely to be pretty common.

  18. Hi, I had IBS years ago which I sorted by giving up sugar and yeast based products. However, I later discovered that I always got bloated after eating bread containing soy.
    Now years later, soy lecithin was recommended to me to lower cholesterol and initially 3 teaspoons a day with meals. It’s taken me about a week or so of cramping and diarrhea to realise it’s the soya lecithin I’m reacting to. I’m stopping it now. I can’t believe I’ve been ingesting an E number in large quantities believing I’m doing something healthy! Not for me anyway.
    Thank you for your insights.

  19. What about soy lecithin and isolated soy protein in most diet shakes that claims to burn fat? And also genistein supplement in tablets form? Also will create bloating? Genistein is known for hormonal balancing.

  20. I finally realized I was sensitive to soy products 2 years ago after first believing it was lactose. Soy is in so many things that it is very hard to avoid.
    I wanted to mention that I have noticed two other possible symptoms from soy. When I accidenyly eat larger amounts of it I notice I get gastric reflux which is rare for me otherwise. I also had been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis due to my symptoms of frequent bladder pain, but when I stopped eating soy I’ve noticed it went away. It flares up only after I ingest large amounts of soy.
    It makes me wonder what other problems it’s causing in me that I don’t know about.

  21. Hi, I have soy intolerance. Before I figured out what the problem was it gave me IBS. So I eliminated soy from my diet and things got a lot better but I would still have some times when the IBS symptoms would recur. By the way, my sister and daughter are also soy intolerant. Well, my sister recently told me that soy is hidden in so called “natural flavors.” Manufacturers are not required to reveal what they put in the “natural flavors.” They aren’t allowed to put soy protein in but they can put soy oil in, even to foods that are labeled soy free! No wonder I have not been able to become digestively healthy yet! I hope people learn about this mislabeling fiasco and raise their voices against it! I am speaking about the US. I don’t think “natural flavors” is a thing in other countries.

  22. Thank you for your help! I made some spaghetti this week and used Tofu in place of beef or turkey and 3 days later, today, I’ve had diarrhea and all the symptoms you mentioned in that order. I had crazy amounts of gas yesterday! Highly unusual amounts of gas! And then today I had the cramps, and that led to the diarrhea and I did also feel a little dizzy at work! Thanks again for the advice.

  23. I’m so pleased to have come across this site, today i tried some silken tofu for the first time ( I marinaded it in soya and hoisin sauce too!). Less than 2 hours later I was doubled up with stomach ache and wind and had to rush to the toilet, where my body just wanted to purge itself (sorry). Realising that this was probably food related I made the possible connection with the tofu I ate and found this discussion site. This explains a lot! I have been eating soya sauce and soya milk for years and have always had intermittent digestive symptons but nothing as extreme as today. Ive just been through my cupboards and it is in everything but I will try to eliminate it from now on.

  24. Thank you so much for this information. I knew already that soy milk affected me, but today I ordered an almond milk chai at a cafe, and two hours later knew without a doubt that it was made with soy as I have had the worst stomach pains etc. since. I don’t seem to have too many problems with other soy products (though they are quite limited in my diet) but it was good to read this info to realise I wasn’t just making up these horrible symptoms!

  25. SOYBEAN OIL, SOY FLOUR, ISOLATED SOY PROTEIN are the worst offenders! sometimes I can get away with having NON GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY PROTEIN but not a lot of it. there are hidden soy sources in 90% vitamins and foods; trust me I know. I get so sick form that it’s like being chained to the bathroom. I now read all labels with magnifying glass and if it doesn’t say SOY FREE, NO SOY….won’t get near it.
    also I find that INULIN IN FIBER ONE BARS, most CEREALS are toxic as well as CALCIUM CARBONATE…..HUGE OFFENDER! 95% of protein bars contains these offenders.
    people with IBS should stick to raw foods as much as possible coupled with strong digestive enyzmes like DIGEST GOLD by ENZYMEDICA and eat FAGE YOGURT (take lactaid with it) taken with stevia works well but is pricey$.
    some doctors claim if you slowly introduce the offending foods you’ll eventually tolerate them; this has never worked for me. if I ever get sick after eating something, is always proven soy is involved or inulin or oat bran etc. stay away from volatile fibers and consume them in tiny amounts…..wait 2 hours to see your reaction. soak beans overnight before cooking next day, they claim, helps avert gastric crises.

  26. Omg i can not believe this. I am dairy and wheat intolerant. The milk becoming to the point it leaves me with migraines to the point of vomitting and unbelievable pain. I turned to soya produces. But after having cereal with soy and soy ice cream i have bloating again stomach pains unbearable gas nausea etc. thank you for this information i was baffled as to why i was getting this when i have been so good at not a nibble of wheat or dairy. So soy off the menu also :-(.
    Vegs fruit and meat for me only :-)

    1. I have used soy milk on my muesli for years, but only began to have problems when I started to eat a lot of tofu. I eliminated tofu a while ago, and my symptoms improved. I have recently begun to feel nauseous almost immediately after breakfast, followed by diarrhea and fatigue. Only one person has mentioned fatigue, so I’m wondering if it is a normal symptom. Someone also mentioned sinus problems, which have plagued me for years, and which I always thought was related to dairy intolerance, hence the soy milk on my muesli. Obviously I will make the change to rice or almond milk – fingers crossed it could be life changing. Thanks for the information. I feel awful for the people who have been made to feel like hypochondriacs.

      1. I am uncertain about the complexity of the interactions but do feel that I sleep worse after eating milk or soy. Lying down then I sometimes feel like my body is “buzzing” and my heart is racing. I am also generally more tired then and tend to having a runny and congested nose. A thing that my gastro-doc has been ignoring every time I mention it, although the connection to soy/milk intake and these symptoms are clear to me: I dry out and I lose water (not urine). I do then get dry eyes, dry hands, dry feet, dry mouth. Back when I still regularly ate milk products and the obvious effects weren’t yet so harsh, I used to sleep with an array of things next to my bed: eye drops, water, lip wax, hand creme, foot creme, nose spray. Since I stopped consuming milk and soy all of this is better.

  27. I haven’t seen any posts about soy lecithin (an emulsifier), but it’s the only ingredient I find in common among various foods that cause me painful cramping and bloating. Chief among them are energy and granola bars and most chocolates. I hardly eat any prepared foods, but soy lecithin is so common that it’s hard to avoid. Other websites say not to worry about soy lecithin, but I beg to differ. Has anyone else had issues with soy lecithin or know about its effect on some people?

    1. Hi Beth,
      this is a weeee bit of a late reply, but I have been asking myself the same thing. I know that I react to (cow) milk and soy products and thus avoid them as good as I can. When I do buy chocolate or chocolate spreads, I try to get a product that does not use any other emulsifier than cocoa butter (in regular dark chocoloate) or sunflower lecithin. I am uncertain wether the effects that I have after eating “bad” chocolate are from the soy lecithin or the “overdose” of (refined lower quality) sugar. I feel my reactions to milk and soy are similar but vary slightly. Based on this non-scientific observation I hold it possible for soy lecithin to also affect me. My friend, who is a post-doc in food science, however, is doubtful wether the soy lecithin could cause digestive problems since lecithin in general is something mamals do actually need in order to process fats. But that does not cancel out my suggestion about soy lecithin. Since lecithins make food ingredients easier and faster to process, there are lecithins in almost everything: breads, chocolate products, cheap cheese, cakes, everything that needs to be “mixed”… Products without lecithins do therefore take more time and energy to produce and are thus more expensive. Soy lecithin (or E 322) is the most commonly used lecithin and I therefore assume that over the day we do take in much more than we would need – also considering that the body can also take lecithins out of foods by itself.
      Summing up: I do hold it possible for soy lecithin to cause similar effects that people here have described with other soy products but have no scientifically backed answer.

      Kind regards,

  28. My doctor is treating me for gastritis and or a possible ulcer. I’m beginning to notice that certain foods bring on the horrible stomach cramping and stomach gas. But I don’t seem to have the bowel symptoms like problems with diarrhea. It’s just extreme pain in my stomach and sometimes some nausea. Can this possibly be a soy sensitivity issue? Is stomach pain common, or is the reaction normally the IBS symptoms?

    1. Hi Karen,

      From everything I’ve ever heard or read, stomach pain is not related to IBS. Could it be a soy sensitivity? Anything is possible. If you eat soy products, and end up with pain, then I’m betting that’s a part of your puzzle. Try the food elimination diet page for more info. Please let us know back here how you make out!

  29. Reading this really helped!
    I’m 15 and have recently gone vegan. At the beginning, soy milk an I didn’t mix all that well but then I think my tummy got used to it, but lately I’ve realised that I can have soy milk in a cup of tea or with my breakfast and nothing. However, the moment I drink it on its own the next morning I have terrible IBS symptoms and I don’t know why it’s different when it’s on it own.

  30. I really love tofu–I think homemade tofu is a marvelous thing (I even invested in a beautiful hand-made tofu press just before I discovered my problem)–and I’ve been eating a lot more than I used to, trying to reduce animal protein in my diet. Unfortunately, I seem to be somewhat intolerant. My tummy rumbles, I become flatulant, my stools are very loose–and it can come on suddenly. There’s no pain, so I can tolerate it as long as I’m not too far from a toilet after a tofu meal, but it’s inconvenient, to say the least. But I don’t want to give up eating tofu! Are there any supplements or anything else that will help me digest tofu and other soy products?

    1. Hi Carol. I don’t know of any specific products to help you eat soy. If it were me, I’d find some other meat replacement, BUT… If I REALLY wanted to eat tofu, etc. what I would do is the following: I’d stop eating anything that upsets my bowels for a few days. Once things are calmed down, I’d try a small amount of tofu or soy. If that goes okay, I’d slowly increase the soy, to see if my body could gradually get used to it. If I ran into large scale problems, I’d try something another food. I hope it helps.


  31. Hi Shawn

    Thank you for this very informative site. I have recently started drinking soya milk and eating soya products as an alternative to meat and found that I was getting really bad gas and abdominal pain. I have other food intollerance, the worst being lemons/citric acid which is in many processed foods, but had never heard of soya being a trigger for these types of symptoms. I have many friends who suffer from various digestive issues and I will definitely pass on the web address to them. Being bloated and windy ain’t no fun :))

  32. What about soy in razor lubricant strips? I have read that they do contain soy, but have not been able to confirm it. It is hard to find a razor without them these days. I recently started using the old school safety razor and it has so far helped with the light rash I would get every time I shaved.
    I found this thread after having another case of unexplained IBS and the only thing I could trace it to was a salad containing edamame and I started to look into everything containing soy.

  33. Hiya, is it possible to be allergic to soy milk alone??? I’m not one for allergies, never have been, but I tried soy milk for the first 2 days ago and now have big red, extremely itchy welts all over my fingers hands, feet and ankles. They started on my eyes and stomach 2 nights ago, disappeared and moved to my elbows, knees, hands, fingers and feet and I woke this morning with my fingers swollen right up ang hands, feet etc itching more than any thing… I cannot think what else it can be :-(
    Thanks Tricia

    1. There may be more soy in soy milk than you’re used to having all at one time. Maybe that’s why you’re body is reacting that way. It does sound miserable, and to me it sounds like an allergic reaction. I’d be very careful. Allergic reactions can be dangerous if your throat swells, etc.

  34. I love tofu and I used to drink soy milk but I notice that arthritis in my hands flares up after a week or two. so I stopped drinking soy and eating tofu for awhile. then I switch to almond milk and this one works for me the best. I’m not a meat lover so replace my protein it with tofu and I like miso soup because I can add lots of vegetable like bokchoy, spinach, etc. I will have miso soup almost every night but I’m noticing again some pains in the joints in my hands!! I don’t know if anyone noticing this too-people with arthritis….I just want to share. thank you.

    1. Hi Iaine, I had hair analysis to look for mild allergies and soy came up as one of those allergies. After months of cutting things out, I found that the major allergen I had was soy and the reaction was pains in my hands and my joints. Prior to that I had thought I was getting arthritis, but am pleased to say after cutting soy from my diet the pains have gone. There also appears to be new research being released that links inflammation to depression, and the recommendations to take prebiotic supplements to assist with this. I have not tried these, however am thinking of doing so.


      1. I have had tofu 3 different times in the past 2 weeks. I NEVER eat tofu or soy products normally as I am sensitive to a bunch of stuff & assumed I should avoid it. Also not crazy about the female mimicking hormones. But this past week my fingers, wrists and a few spots in my back have been agonizing at time, like I have arthritis but I have had NO pain whatsoever before this weeks. What is going on with this stuff? I strongly feel it was the tofu I’ve eaten. Ihad it last 2 days ago before really reading about it. Now I am drinking a lot of water and eating very light. Oh I also had bad diahreah the first time I had it a few weeks ago but wasn’t sure that it was the tofu. I also felt dizzy. I had diahreah for about 4 days. :( I’m praying that this pain will go away when it clears out of my system. I have also felt weirdly depressed just since eating it. I ws pretty happy before that. I feel sleepy too. D:

  35. Great info! I recently started back on this Very Vanilla Soymilk with my cereal kick and it has been AWFUL. I used to drink it in college occasionally, since I’m just not a big milk drinker anyway, but now I think it’s going off my menu entirely. I would get a bowl of cereal as a snack before bed and by morning I would be in absolute agony with diarrhea and cramping and sweating so bad! I didn’t at first figure it was the soymilk but after waiting a few days only to have a repeat, several different times, that’s the only thing it could be. Haven’t tried soynuts or any other soy related products that I really enjoy to see how they effect me yet but soymilk is NOT my alternative anymore! Thank you for your info on this! I’m so glad you shared your experiences and allow others to as well!

    1. Almond milk has REALLY worked for me!!!!!! I’ve been meaning to write about it. I like the flavor way better than soy milk too. Thanks for the kind words Wendy!

  36. I’m so happy I found this. I gave my 14 month old 1 oz of soy milk yesterday and ended up in the ER. She was in so much pain. There was no comforting her, and she rarely cries so this was way out of character for her. She also had 3 dirty diapers and got a terrible diaper rash. ALL from soy milk.

  37. Question – I’ve never had any problem before but I bought a large container of dry roasted/salted edamame..I ate a very large serving and now it has been over 24 hours and I’ve had stomach cramping, loose stools. Could this be the cause and how longs will such symptoms last? Thank you!

  38. I submitted a reply earlier, but I’m not seeing the post, regarding soy intolerance brought on by using melatonin w/ soybean oil for two weeks. Of course, this was in addition to food, and as I alarmingly found out, my Vitamin D pill and cranberry supplements. I’ve suffered for two weeks now and I’m hoping that some relief is in sight as I eliminate soy products for a time. Has anyone who’s had a temporary intolerance been able to tolerate some soy later on? You can’t help but run into it and I’ve never had a problem before. I think this was just a case of overload. How long does it take the body to readjust itself? Any answers or cures would be helpful. Thank you.

  39. Here’s something I’m not seeing along w/ all of these other causes of soy intolerance. I realized that, after almost two weeks of severe stomach distress, I may have developed a bout of soy intolerance due to soybean oil in my melatonin. I was using one brand that didn’t contain it, but purchased Nature’s Bounty because it was on sale. I saw that it contained soybean oil but thought nothing of it because it’s supposed to be good for you. I realized the other day what might be happening because I’ve read that people often have problems w/ soy. I also realized that some of my other supplements contain it also – Vitamin D and cranberry supplements to be exact. Once I discovered what my problem probably is, I started using Immodium to curb the diarrhea and cramping. It seems to be taking some time and I know this won’t stop over night, but can anyone tell me how long it’ll take before I feel normal again? This is truly frustrating. I’ve read every label before eating anything in the last few days, but unfortunately I ate bread yesterday w/out thinking. Does bread have that much of an affect also?

  40. I can’t eat unfermented soy like tofu, or fake meat products from the freezer section without getting rumbly stomach and diarrhea, but my system seems to tolerate fermented soybean in the form of tempeh very well. Just made a yummy vegetarian chili using tempeh, which I’ve been eating for 3 days without unpleasant side effects. This may be helpful to other vegetarians like me who have become intolerant to soy – I lived on tofu and fake sausage for years, and was apparently too dense to make the connection to my gastric problems, until I had a bout where I couldn’t digest brown rice either. I discovered the commonality between the brown rice and tofu is phytic acid and started a diet to reduce phytic acid, which includes a lot of fermented foods.

  41. Was interested in the fact that neither you nor any of your readers mention the problem I have. I’m a chronic migraine sufferers. Headaches are triggered by many foods I used to enjoy (bananas, chocolate, nuts, red wines, aged cheeses, etc.) Recently I noticed that headaches were also being triggered (usually the following day) by visits to the local Japanese restaurant. Soy sauce is of course de rigueur for many dishes.
    Alex levy

    1. Hi Alex, Yes, soy sauce is plentiful at Japanese or Chinese resteraunts. One other thing some people have trouble with is MSG which is often a HUGE part of Japanes/Chinese cooking. It can cause migraines too. Thanks for checking in. – Shawn

    2. At last!!!!! I finally feel i have found something that I can put all my symptoms down to!! I was being made to feel like i was over exaggerating my symptoms and after countless visits to the doctors, I had no answers!!

      I love my food and every now and then i was getting the bloated pregnancy look with horrendous cramps that made me feel nauseous, terrible wind and grumbling sounds from my tummy/stomach (wherever it’s coming from) and lower back pain. I also have suffer with the migraines and loose stools. In fact, i am currently experiencing these problems hence the research!

      The last two days i have suffered with these symptoms and the only thing i have been eating which is different is edamame beans and hummus. Could these alone be the cause?? I also find after eating chinese/Thai food i suffer. I have not had any problems like this for a long time so have forgotten how terrible you can feel!! My diet has recently changed as have not really been eating due to stress and have lost alot of weight so slowly putting weight pack on introducing new foods.

      This may not be the root of my problem but it certainly has given me some hope!! I will certainly be paying more attention to products containing soy and the way i feel after eating them!!

      Thank you sooo much for giving me that little bit of hope and reassurance that isnt ‘just in my mind’ as so many people like to say!!

      Catherine x

  42. A couple of weeks ago I had a day of violent vomiting. I put it down to a bug. Earlier this week the same thing occurred. I realised the connection – Each time I ate a meal replacement bar, and within minutes was ill. Looking on the label I found the bars were made of soy protein isolate, and one look on the Internet confirmed that this causes common problem. I’ve never had such a reaction to any foods before. The bars were big chunky things, so I guess this would be more soy protein isolate than I would normally eat accidentally, as it were. But lesson learned! Watch out for those diet replacement foods….

  43. This blog helped a lot and gave me so much incite!!! I really wish I would have seen this before I started giving my 1yo soy milk! We’re in the transition from Similac Sensitive formula to milk and I tried soy milk because I was worried he might have a sensitivity to regular whole milk since he didn’t do we’ll with regular Similac formula. Well boy was I wrong!!! We started yesterday and he woke up this morning with diarrhea diapers all day BAD BAD rash on his butt and gassy and pretty whiny ALL DAY!!! I would have never known there was such thing as a soy sensitivity! I thought it was only lactose or milk! I have recently developed a sensitivity to milk so I have been DYING for some regular milk (I LOVE MILK BTW CAN’T GET ENOUGH LOL)! My mother in law showed they had lactose free milk, I started that a few days ago and am LOVING it!! And haven’t had a problem yet. So tonight I decided to try half formula half lactose free milk in a bottle so we’ll see how he does tomorrow! :) thank you so much for your help!!

  44. Hi, just after Christmas I decided to lose a few pounds and have soy meat replacements. About a week later I had what I thought was a tummy bug. I had severe stomach cramps, I had hot flushes and was violently sick. I was ill for a week. After I only had to eat small amounts of any food to feel like I had eaten a four course meal! After a further 3 weeks I went to my doctor, who did a full blood works, stool and urine tests. All came back negative. This has persisted now for nearly six months. I have continued have quorn and soy, but not huge amounts, but I still have this uncomfortable fullness just under my breast bone a lot of the time, mostly at night, hours sometimes after I have eaten. Any suggestions anyone. I think my doctor thinks I am a malingerer! Thanks.

    1. Hello Joy, If your stomach, or gallbladder or whatever is acting up because of something you are eating, maybe you should try not eating it for a few days to see if that helps. If so, you’ve found your own answer. I bet you’ll get some relief. – Shawn

  45. I figured out my sensitivity to soy oil and soy protein by going through an allergy elimination diet. The doctor took me off of eggs, wheat, corn and dairy and put me on soy. I blew up like a balloon! I can tolerate soy sauce, but even a little bit of soy oil will give me sharp cramps, gas and diarrhea within about 30 minute of ingestion.

    What’s worse is the idea that soy protein is a good substitute for more expensive ingredients in many processed foods. Bread is becoming the worst culprit. Try sending your husband to the grocery store for bread and other staples. He tries, but invariably comes home with something with soy in it.

    Soy has taken on the role that corn did in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It’s in everything! I must read every label and always ask the ingredients of salad dressings and sauces, even at the nicest restaurants. And with the cost of olive oil rising, I have to re-ask my favorite restaurants because they change the ingredients to vegetable “blend” oils which invariably contain soy oil.

    It’s annoying.

    1. Hello Addie. Yes, it’s extremely annoying. It’s almost like food manufacturers go through fashions or fads. They find something cheap, that many people have trouble digesting, and the next thing you know, it’s in every food! It makes me angry sometimes. My only consolation, small though it may be, is that at least you found the trouble. Some people can never seem to find out their trigger foods. I hope you find some delicious ways to avoid the soy that makes you so sick. – Shawn

  46. Your article is very informative. I will remember it for future challenges. For the flatulence I also use a couple of charcoal capsules from the health food store. However, I found I had several allergies and a friend suggested The Allergy Kit. So I went on line and read all of their information and also called them to answer my questions. They were so considerate and informative that I bought the kit. Am I glad I did!!! The Allergy Kit has given me a new life of freedom I couldn’t have gotten any other way. It only took two weeks for me to be rid of my allergies. And it is the least expensive treatment I have ever seen for allergies. You do it at home without having to go to the doctor over and over again. Check it out and see if you get the same results as I did. I am not associated with them so this is not an advertisement. And the method they use is all energetically and they have treated 1000’s with great results. I don’t know if it will help you but for the small price to me it is worth the try. I had such great results I have to sing their praises. Good luck!!!

  47. Hey Shawn,
    I have really found your website resourceful. I may have another puzzle piece, so I’m getting back to you:
    I spend last night cramping and wimmering on the toilet. I’ve had a small bowl of cauliflower soup that my flatmate made. after finishing it I fund out it had 100ml soy creme. I knew I was going to have stomac problems. But what followed was so excruciating I thought I was going to pass out. (mostly left side but also right side intestinal pain, clrealy audible interior intestinal noises from that area, heavy cramping in the lower abdomen/intestines before a sudden purging – sorry to be so grafic). I am better now that the food has been passed mostly. Stomac still grumbles. Am a bt dehydrated. Will stick to peppermint tea for now.
    I had a look at the ingredients list. The soy creme did not have much more soy than the soy milk or joghurt I knew to give me trouble. But the effects had never been this extreme. I read your article on annatto but that wasn’t in the creme. Carragen is fine with me, too. What I found and what was new to me was tocopherol extract wich is used as an antioxidant. Apparently there are up to 7 varieties of that. The basic version is also known as vitamin E and as food additive as E106. Very often alpha-, delta- or gamma-tocopherol is used wich is chemically generated from E106. Tocopherol can be made from soy, wheat, cotton and maize/corn. It is called a “natural additive”. However, it is legal (in Europe) and apparently common to use genetically modified source material to generate the several versions of tocopherol. The online additives encyclopidia stated that a too high dose of vitamin-active tocopherol (i.e. 800 mg/d, in vitamine supplements or vitaminzed products) were known to cause problems with thyriod hormones and digestive organs. That is no definitive answer to my clue. Have you heard of such natural additives causing problems?

    1. First of all, Thank you Sarah for the detailed information!

      I have heard of all kinds of problems with “natural additives”, and also artificial colors and flavors. Everything from IBS symptoms to anxiety, attention problems.

      That being said, cauliflower is KNOWN to cause quite a bit of gas! It’s a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and brussel sprouts. They are right up there with beans, for causing intestinal gas.

      So yes, it could certainly be one of the other things in your very useful list. Or it could be the cauliflower itself.

      Thanks again! – Shawn

  48. Interesting. I recently discovered I was lactose intolerant. Went off dairy, and decided to replace dairy with soy milk. Over a period of month I had a constant pounding heart. One day I drank more than normal and my heart went racing, with stomach distress. I went off soy milk and few days I felt normal. Then recently ate a frozen meal with soy protein as one of the main ingredenents and the racing heart and stomach distress was back for a few hours. I was recently tested for soy allergy and that came back negative.

    Has anyone else experience the racing heart with stomach distress from soy protein? And could this sensitity come on because I removed dairy from my diet?

    1. I haven’t had a racing heart, myself. But soy is a huge problem for me. Lots of bowel and stomach distress. My personal (layman’s) opinion, is that it’s not because you stopped dairy. I’m glad you were able to get back to normal after a few days of no soy and no dairy. I know these are hard to avoid too. Pain in the butt.

    2. From what I’ve read when you have a reaction to foods & the body is trying to eliminate it from your body you can get extra histamine in your system and this can cause your heart to race somewhat. I’ve noticed the same thing and I normally have a lowish blood pressure and healthy heart rate. After the reaction goes away my heart goes back to normal. I’m not sure if adrenaline is involved with adverse food reactions but that could cause a temporary racing heart also. (This I know from my past experience with panic attacks. Adrenaline can cause a lot of strange symptoms, but they go when the adrenaline normalizes).

  49. Only once I have had very similar bloating, gas problems, gas related pain. I had been pregnant for a few weeks. Apparently those gas problems are normal in early pregnancy because of the hormonal changes. This is why I thought that the food intolerance might be hormone-related. I would like to find out. -Sarah

  50. Hello Shawn,
    I have also been self diagnosing for a while. I have been a vegetarian for 14 years now and have always eaten soy products as well as lots of milk products. A year ago I started having “tummy trouble” wich turned into what I call “rumble in the jungle”. I first thought it was lactose intolerance. So I left out all milk products for a few day and was much better. (I didn’t eat soy on a daily basis anyway.)So I tried lactose-free milk and cheese as well as soy milk, yofu and ate tofu just a wee bit more than usual. But this really gave me trouble. So I skipped the milk products all together to find out that it had to be the soy, too. In fact soy gives me more trouble than milk. Goat milk/cheese is however not an alternative. I read that there was a connection of milk proteine intolerance and soy proteine intolerance. This is how I found out more. With your information I finally have the missing pieces.

    What I still don’t know is why and how this sudden onset comes about so late in life. I am in my late twenties. I have been eating milk and soy without problems until last year/last fall. I have had quite some stress last fall when the symtomps intensified.

    I also take modafinil every day and had increased my dose in fall. Modafinil is a cytochrome P450 inducer. Those are relavant for metabolization processes. Modafinil (also kown as Provigil) has lactose in them but it’s just a tiny pill of wich I rarely take more than 3 a day. It has diarrhea and upset stomach as side-effects but I never had them before when taking a larger dose and I also still cant see a direct interaction.

    My symptoms (in that order: lots of clearly audible stomac noises, lots of gas that is painfully trapped and takes long to get “untrapped”, bloated to the point where it looks like pregnancy, sudden diarrhea)start appearing a few hours after eating soy/milk but may also start or last up to 24 hrs past the food intake.

    I have been searching with google and google scolar. So far this is one of the most concrete information sites that I have found that adress the issue in adults. I have been trying to get some more information and/or documentation. I am not a medical professional I am just a good information researcher and have a good medical understanding. Do you have a tip where I could find more clinical documentation on this? Maybe a bigger compendium that has relevant information? More articles? I have access to some databases through my university I just dont know them. ( I am in literature/culture.)

    A tip or two would be greatly appreachiated. Thank you already for the good overview & previous comments! – Sarah

    1. Hello Sarah,

      According to my gastroenterologist, EVERYONE becomes more lactose intolerant as time goes on. I talk abou that some on the page.

      Once your bowels are irritable :) it can certainly take 24 hours or more before they settle.

      As far as soy, an awful lot of people have trouble with it. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people have more and more trouble with certain foods over time. Lots of people can just seem to eat anything, and others (at least 1 out of 5, and probably more) end up with some kind of bowel trouble, which may or may not be food related.

      As always, I recommend seeing a dietician or other doctor to help with that.

      Meanwhile some people find that removing certain foods from their diets really helps.

      , is where I write about that.

      As far as resources, I usually use google scholar, pubmed, and

      I hope it helps!


  51. I have found that going on a cleansing diet really helps to get my system back on track. After 3 weeks of eating nothing but fruits, veggies and whole grains, I’m good to go for about 6 months. I still continue to avoid soy on a daily basis, which for me is key, but at least I can tollerant going out to eat after I do the cleanse.

    1. This kind of cleanse has always interested me. I’ve tried fasting in the past, which helped for a few days (not worth it for me), but I’ve never really been enough of a fruit and veggie person to commit to what you’re doing. I eat better than some, but I could be doing a lot more. THanks for the tip. I’m sure it will help people! – Shawn.

  52. My 2yo has a sensitivity to dairy, so this wknd bought soy milk. He had loose stools 6-8 times yesterday. He also may hv had hives, though I didn’t realize that’s what was happening. Switching to almond milk tomorrow!

  53. I am so glad I found this post on soy sensitivity. I am transitioning to a plant based diet and this past week was drinking soy milk instead of almond milk. My stomach and intestinal system has been a mess along with breakouts. This past week I’ve also had waves of nausea and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Your post just answered all my questions and I’m dumping the soy milk and boca burgers tomorrow. I didn’t like the burgers as the taste did not agree with me and apparently the ingredients had the same negative effect. Thank you!

  54. So pleased to have found this information. After years of periodic episodes of becoming ill, I decided to keep a food diary of the foods eaten which preceed this illness. My symptoms: light nausea, stomach ‘in a knot’, bloating, high pressure gas that feels like a bowel movement, full sinuses and fatigue, dizziness or mild headache. For years, I complained that my sinuses were draining into my stomach, making me sick. Even prescription sinus meds never worked. Keeping a food diary helped uncover a strong, consistent pattern, with a reaction usually within 2 hours of eating that lasts 2-3 days. My diary includes ingredients. Next Dr visit will be interesting. Soy based ingredients appear in every food I have listed so far. This developed over decades.

  55. For me, its the form that it comes in. I can tolerate small amounts of soy sauce, and can eat edamame, but I have awful stomach cramps after having soy milk, or eating stuff that contains “toasted soy grits” – whatever those are. Its peculiar though – sometimes it sets me off, and others it doesn’t – I ate a burger in Melbourne once by mistake, not knowing it was faux chicken, and had no adverse effects (other than a bit of gas, attributed to onions). It was a couple of months later I found out that this particular burger place only sold patties that were made of soy. And soy bacon. Anyone else experienced this?

    1. Hi K,

      I eat, binge & love edamame without any reaction, as I proved to myself (again) last month, I am very much soy intolerant: eating 200 grams of tofu (& some soy sauce) over a period of a week made my face & thyroid glands swell. Had I continued to eat it I would have gotten itchy rash like bumps (pin prick sized) on my face (moving down my neck), hands (going up my arms) with a high fever.

      I read a yahoo answer that edamame is unripe soybeans, meaning that I might be allergic to something that happens later in the maturity process. Are “we” sure that allergic people also react to edamame?

      1. Okay, I was a bit quick I see.
        After reading the article again I believe I might be allergic, not sensitive to soy. But how can an allergy take many days daily consumption of the “dangerous” food?

        *BTW I never really ate soy products before or after my veggienism. I love preparing (perhaps cook) & eating fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds, but nothing really pre-made. I have apparently unconsciously avoided soy (I don’t really eat snacks, bars, bread, baked goods, meat substitute etc. – I really love a veggie/fruit dish tasting of it’s ingredients!)

        Best Regards,
        Yael :)

    2. My body reacts in a similar way. I love edamame, but processed soy gives me heartburn, cramping, bloating, and gas. Perhaps we are haplosufficient in an enzyme that processes this particular plant protein, and edamame contains less protein than soy? Alternately, there may be something about the way soy is processed that makes us sensitive to the resulting products. These are just a couple educated guesses, but it’s definitely something I’m interested in looking into!

      1. Thanks for this info. I have the same symptoms – allergic to tofu , soy powders and TVP, but not edamame ,Tempeh, or Miso. I’ve suspected it has to do with processing and this article is very helpful.

  56. Being a vegan for over 8 years and living in the UK I’ve mostly based my diet around soy products (soy burgers, soy sausages, soy milk & yogurts, soy cheese…) and I’ve just been doing a bit of a research after suffering from IBS and bloated stomach and constant diarrhea so I’m so glad I’ve found this page now. I will be giving oat and almond milk a go and forget about soy for a while and see how it goes. Unfortunately today was the worst case I’ve had of diarrhea after having silken tofu as scrambled eggs replacement for breakfast so it confirmed what I’ve been guessing for a while now. Always when I’ve had tofu in Asian restaurants I’ve had mild IBS or diarrhea symptoms straight away which makes perfect sense now. I’m afraid I’m a perfect example of soy sensitive unfortunately! Many thanks for your page!

  57. After years of bloating and gas and feeling horrible I switched to an all fruit and veggie diet. By adding new foods weekly I discovered through a simple cup of tea that it contained soy. After a few experiments and reading everyones symptoms I think I have finally figured out what none of the doctors could!
    I have been making my own bread which has been heaven sent!!

    1. I just read the label on my tea and it says SOY LECITHIN!!! Maybe that is why I still have occasional bouts of stomach cramping when I make my sun tea.

      After being troubled by this problem for nearly a decade, I did not realize the SOY connection until I ate a handful of edamame. BANG, within 5-10 minutes I was doubled-over in pain.

      I started reading labels on everything and once I found that vegetable oil is usually soybean oil, I eliminated that (use canola & olive oil) and have been doing much better. Unfortunately, I am unable to go to many restaurants because I do not know what kind of oil they use. It is kind of like playing Russian roulette with your GI symptoms; so I tend to do all of my own cooking and baking bread too!

      I’m glad to find some comrades, as everyone in my circle tends to think I’m being dramatic. Thank you.

      1. Hi Kelly, I’m glad you’re finding some relief, even if it’s making things difficult. So many people just don’t understand what it’s like to go through the kinds of things we talk about around here. Being “dramatic” or “it’s all in your head”, or being a hypochondriac, are all things people with IBS (and other poorly understood illnesses) are accused of.

        I’m also glad you found some people to relate too!!! – Shawn

  58. I get IBS occasionally and just assumed it was genetic but after reading this column, I believe it’s Soy sensitivity! I had tried to drink soy milk once, and due to IBS, quit. I noticed the same thing years later, after eating edamame. I don’t go out of my way to avoid soy, but the occasional IBS makes sense now. I also do get the sweats, not every time, but possibly once out 4-5 times, and generally that’s over 3/4 to a full year. :-) I appreciate having found this and being able to connect these dots! I’m going to start watching my soy a lot closer.

  59. Found out a couple of years ago that eating breads (not all) containing soya and soya milk causes very severe stomach pain bloating and finally diarrhoea. try to avoid is becoming almost impossible.

  60. Linda I have experienced the same, extreme sweating from soy.

    I discovered I was intolerant to soy when I was eliminating dairy from my diet when nursing my youngest child as he showed sign of dairy intolerance, a few weeks down the line he started exhibiting the same symptoms, in fact worse in reaction to soy. I also started reacting badly to soy, bad gas, extremely bad diarrhoea, extreme sweating and feeling like I was about to collapse as I’d get these sudden attacks of fatigue.

    It then hit me it could only be soy and thinking back I’d had these issues for years but just never been able to pin down a cause. I used to get hives when eating fried Asian foods such as samosas and spring rolls and just couldn’t understand why, I then found that the 100% vegetable oil used widely in homes and catering here in the UK is 100% soybean oil, mystery solved! I think for me, unfortunately I have a digestive intolerance to soy and also a mild allergy to it. I have the same problem with dairy though not as severe.

    I’m now vegan and its a nightmare as so many things are just replaced with soy in the vegan food world, the few vegan restaurants we have here all rely heavily on soy and its hard to find a menu item that doesn’t have it in somewhere. There are now wheat based alternatives which I am fine with but these are not widely available here nor are they served in restaurants and cafes. Often when the wheat based meats are sold they are sold in a soy based broth or have soy protein mixed in with them, it’s ridiculous.

    1. Hi Sofie,

      I became a vegan about ten years ago. At the time if anyone asked if I had any allergies, I’d always say, “Thank God, no.”

      It took years to find out why, but even though I was eating healthier than I had in my life, I was getting sicker and sicker. Lots of people were very eager to tell me it was because my body “needed meat.” I’d thank them for their concern and tell them I wasn’t a vegan for my health, I was a vegan because I wasn’t paying people to make animals suffer if I could avoid it.

      I am lucky I didn’t go for all the “Eat meat!” theories. It turned out I had Celiac Disease and was having bad reactions to all the wheat gluten meat substitutes and pasta and veggie sandwiches I had started eating. That led to a supervised medical cleanse to sort out my dietary issues and I found out I was also having bad reactions to soy (constant back pain, skin break outs, etc), and something called “salicylic sensitivity.” It seems a lifetime of loving bread really damaged my gut. Now, I am very careful what I eat, but that is soooooo much better than all the pain (and bad skin!) I was living with before.

      I live in Los Angeles, and there are quite a few vegan restaurants and vegan items on regular menus out here. I always tell the server what I can’t eat, and let them tell me which items are safe. Sometimes that will be only one thing they serve, and I’ll happily order that, but won’t be back often. The more things they have I can eat, the more times I come back. It behooves them to not shut me out. It’s getting easier all the time to be a vegan with other dietary requirements.

  61. Hi im 56 and going through the menopause i was told Soya milk would help with the hot flushes so i have started to drink a large glass of soya milk each day ,Within 10 mins i have had stomach cramps and diarrhea, at first i didnt put two and two together then i found this page and bingo the light switched on , we had been away for 4 days and i hadnt had any soya milk and i didnt have any cramps or diarrhea. The rest of the milk has gone down the drain i would raher have the flushes

    1. WOW! I’ve not heard about the hot flash/soy treatment. I’m glad you caught it early, and didn’t have to suffer for a long time. Thanks for letting others know!

      1. yes, that is when I first started using soy milk. It is recommended for menopause symptoms because it contains plant estrogens which are supposed to kind of help replace the natural loss of estrogens. It didn’t give me any problems at the time but it sure does now. Just found your site toady after realizing that soy may be my problem.

  62. You may never have heard of this symptom of allergy to soy but I promise it is true. I have intense sweating when I eat soy. The few times we eat out are followed by diahhrea and violent sweats. This isn’t menopause. I went through that many years ago following surgery.

    Do you know of others with this symptom? I really suffer.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Sometimes when I’m really sick with diarrhea, I DO get sweats. Not violent, but still…

    2. The sudden flushes of heat and sweating were exactly what made me realize my abdominal symptoms were not in my head–I gave up soy milk (which I love!) for 48 hours and both types of symptoms went away. I actually seem to have mid-back pain when I eat soy, but guess it’s related to heartburn. Just a thought, in case anyone else has that problem.

      1. Hi Linda and Susan, I have severe IBS-D. The one trigger I’ve found is Soy (even food processed with Soy in the manufacturing plant). I figured this out by Starbucks. I noticed that when I ordered a drink with soy milk in it I was in the bathroom immediately to 1 hour. When I ordered the same drink with 2% milk I had no issues. I get the severe rolling cramps usually (sometimes no cramps and no warning), feeling hot and face sweat, and an ache in my lower spine. Just this Friday, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and now take medication. My primary care doctor advised me to try the Low FODMaP elimination Diet for my IBS-D, and to try to go Gluten and Dairy Free for the Hypothyroidism. After a lot of research the last few days I noticed that a lot of people diagnosed with Hypothyroidism have also been diagnosed with either IBS-C or IBS-D or Celiac. The thyroid controls almost everything in your body and when it stops working properly due to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism then things in your body also stop working. Most doctors just do a blood test to check your TSH, but you should also ask them to check your T3 and T4 antibodies (my doctor did not do this because my TSH came back too high). Other than Soy, I’ve not been able to figure out what else are my triggers. IBS-D has been majorly disruptive in my life, with a couple of accidents and close-calls, especially while traveling. Long term sinus headaches, allergies, Vertigo, fatigue, memory fog, cold insensitivities, IBS, weight gain and inability to lose that weight…all can be linked to an underactive thyroid. If your doctor only does the TSH test and it comes back normal then ask them to also do a full thyroid check to include the T3 and T4 antibodies because a lot of people are going undiagnosed because their TSH test is coming back normal. Anyway, I would recommend anyone who has had long-term IBS or Celiac to also get their thyroid checked out.

  63. \\I change the milk soya basaed formula with my 2 mnth old son however i notice it that there is a problem with his vowel movement he feel pain and hard after 5 days there is blood coming to his rectum and the Doctor told us to switch it to cow milk instead..And it help a lot my baby can sleep well..

  64. Dry Roasted Soynuts; I picked up a little bag in the store the other day. I had a few one day and a few the next day, they were good and I had no bad side effects. Yesterday I ate a lot at one time; at least two servings around 4PM. About 4 hours later I had a case of diarrhea that was beyond any diarrhea I have ever had. My bowels just wanted to empty, hardly any warning. There was no bloating, no gas, no pain. This happened about 6 times between 8PM and 10PM. I frantically took three Imodium tablets and finally around 10:30PM the problem stopped. What a shame, I really liked those soy nuts but will never eat them again and I’ll be aware of ingesting any food with a large amount of soy in it.

    1. That’s too bad Ria. I hope you don’t find that the smaller amounts of soy oil, etc. in other foods affect you. At least if this is your main problem, then you can avoid it. Some people that come here NEVER find all their IBS trigger foods. I wish you continued good luck and good health! – Shawn

  65. I ate at a seafood resturant which fried the fish in soy oil. It wasnt ten minutes I developed all the symptoms.
    cramps, etc Guess i better ask what oil restaurant use next time i order,

    1. I hear that from a number of people. They think they’re safe because of WHAT they’re eating, only to be caught by what the food was cooked in. Thanks for the tip Cindi!

  66. I just started the Jenny Craig diet four days ago, and the first thing I noticed was gas, bloating, and pain – just like when I had IBS. After reading the labels, I found that most Jenny Craig food has soy in it, in one form or the other. All “meats” are soy except for chicken.
    I am taking my probiotics and Gas-X twice a day. I will keep eating Jenny Craig food and see how I feel after a full week. I am also not used to eating all the salad and fruit that is required. Both of those gave me a lot of gas when I had IBS (which had gone away a few years ago).
    I do believe my digestive issues are due primarily by the soy, but also by the fiber.

    1. Thanks for that important tip Heather! Yeah, I find that I can’t eat much soy at all. Glad to hear your IBS went away once. I hope it does again.

      1. It’s not perfectly gone, it’s just rare that I have much trouble. I followed the information here on the site, especially the food elimination diet.

  67. In the summer of 2007, I thought I would get “healthier” by eliminating some meat in my diet with soy products along with using soy milk. I began having IBS symptoms and thought that it was related stress of going back to school for my degree. In October of 2008, I went off of Boniva due to information I received regarding problems related to this product and other similar products and began taking Citracal Plus Bone Density in place of the regular Citracal. By Christmas of 2008, the gas and diarrhea was so bad I had bleeding and thought I had colon cancer. Shortly after the first of the year (2009), I came across and article by Dr. Gott where someone asked him about the difference between regular Citracal and the Plus Bone Density. Dr. Gott said that the Plus Bone Density contains Genistein (Soy Isoflavone)which can cause horrible gas and diarrhea in some. The light bulb went off in me thinking that my problems began when I increased soy products in my diet then starting using the Plus Bone Density Citracal which exacerbated the problem. I began researching the internet and found that soy is NOT the wonder food it’s claiming. Truly, no one should be eating soy, in my opinion. I have been eating soy free from that point on which is difficult due to the fact soy is in almost EVERYTHING! I’ll be 61 years young the end of June this year and I feel better than I did when I was in my 40’s. Thank you for the information you’ve provided so others can be aware of the problems with soy. Good luck to all dealing with any food related problem.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Joyce. And thank you for the kind words. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I’m so glad you’re feeling so much better!

  68. My son has frequent mushy stools so they sent us to a GI specialist. All his labs came back normal (stool and blood work) except they said his RAST came back mild for soy. they didnt seem concerned about the soy at all. He has autism and sleeps poorly, is hyper, and has eczema. My guess is the soy is what is causing the eczema. poor kid can’t stop itching which makes the ezcema worse. Thanks for the information and I think we will avoid soy from now on!


      1. I never thought of that! I have many of those symptoms. Ill try not to have it anymore but is there a way to control the pains diharrea and gas, because i just had some before reading this:(

      2. Dear Shawn,
        Thanks for this site which helped my mother who is on soy milk now she shall stop and told her to try milk without lactose.


        1. My pleasure June. I use almond milk now. I find it delicious, and the one I use has extra fiber (5 grams a cup). Good luck to your mother! – Shawn

      3. Hi, I recently found your sight and I have found it super helpful. Thank you so much for putting it together!! I have had stomach cramping for a little less than a year now with extreme bloating and a trapped gas feeling. When it’s really bad, I’ve found that it will happen while I am still eating the food. I have cut out soy (thanks to your sight!), and while it’s gone down, I find myself sometimes still getting bloated and having some similar symptoms and I haven’t gone back to normal yet. I have been to the doctor and we’re still waiting to see what it is. It isn’t gluten because I am fine with that, and doesn’t seem to be dairy/lactose either. Do you know if it can take a while (a few weeks) to come “back to normal” after cutting out soy? I was distressed that it hasn’t been rapid but think maybe this is the recovery time since I agitated my insides by eating so much soy all the time (I was eating tofu, soy milk, plus soy is in everything!!). Anyway, do you think that could be it? Do you have any other suggestions – find any diet particularly helpful during a recovery period, or was yours immediate after cutting out soy? Again, thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it, and this site, again, is so helpful!!


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