Soy Lecithin Allergic: An Overview
You would have noticed the term “soy lecithin” on various labels.
It is a very common ingredient and is one of the top 10 common ingredients used in processed foods.
Why is Lecithin in your food?
Lecithin is an oily substance that occurs naturally in animals such as egg yolk and in plants such as soy beans
Whilst some people use lecithin as a supplement as it is high in cholinet, that is not the reason it is used as an additive in foods.Soy lecithin is an emulsifier.
Which means it can keep ingredients such as cocoa and the cocoa butter from separating. It is also used in baking to stop dough from sticking.
Soy lecithin is used in the manufactures of a diverse range of products e.g.- from asthma inhalers, prescription medicines, cough drops even in tea bags.
Soy lecithin is marked on lebeling as ingredient E322 is extracted from soybeans either chemically or mechanically using a chemical hexane. It is actually a byproduct of the soybean oil production.
Why do food companies use soy lecithin?
It’s cheap and it is a natural emulsifier.
What about allergies?
Soy lecithin allergy is the condition, where the immune system becomes hypersensitive to lecithin obtained from soy beans. The immune system identifies lecithin as a harmful foreign particle. So, it releases a large amount of antibodies in the body, which in turn, causes allergic reactions. Some people can experience a mild allergic reaction to soy lecithin, while others can encounter the life threatening condition, known as anaphylaxis. Such a condition requires immediate medical attention.
A large number of individuals are found to be hypersensitive to soy protein and soy lecithin, out of which the great majority are young children and infants.
Soy Lecithin Allergic Symptoms
Soy lecithin alergies can sometimes produce a few mild symptoms like, sneezing, runny nose, minor skin rash and hives. But, certain individuals can experience serious allergic reactions to soy lecithin, which can manifest in itching, severe skin rash and urticaria, coughing,shortness of breath, wheezing and unusual swelling, especially of the face, tongue and throat.
Eventually, the condition can lead to dizziness, fainting and ‘anaphylaxis’, which can be termed as a systemic allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis, if not treated immediately can lead to anaphylactic shock.
Preventing Soy Lecithin Allergic
The best preventive measure for avoiding soy lecithin allergy is to avoid soy and soy based products. Some of the common soy productsare soy flour, soy milk, soy albumin, soy beans, soy nuts, tofu, miso, natto, soy sauce, tamari, edamame, teriyaki, shoyu and tempe. Soy or soy lecithin is nowadays included in great many food products, especially the processed ones.
For this, one should always read the label of the products to find out the ingredients, before making purchases. Read the label of a product, even if you have already tried it and have experienced no reaction.
This is because, many times, the manufacturer can change certain ingredients and include soy and soy lecithin in it. At the same time, be sure to check the ingredients of the particular dish, while dining outside. This is especially applicable if you go to a Chinese or Japanese restaurant.
As soy lecithin allergy is observed to be more common in children, they should be taught not to accept any food offered by their friends or peers. To sum up, every possible measure need to be taken to avoid soy products, and processed foods that include soy or soy lecithin, in order to avoid allergic reaction to soy lecithin.
As far as the treatment for soy lecithin allergy is concerned, the symptoms of allergic reaction can be managed with antihistamines, but a severe case would require the immediate administration of epinephrine. Therefore, on observing the symptoms of soy lecithin allergy, one should immediately seek the help of his or her physician.