Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Soya Explained... What is Soya?

Discovering that my son is soya intolerant has made me curious about soya.  I realised that I don't really know anything about soya other than it's plant based and in a lot of foods which my son and I usually ate. I wanted to know why it is in so many food products so I decided to do some research into soya.  All of the research I have done is very informative but most websites provide endless amounts of information which can become overwhelming and exhausting to read.  I have decided to write this post to share the basics and main points with you, I have also included links for more detailed information in case you want to know more.   

Soya is a plant which has been around for a long long time, before 3000BC.  It was classified as a sacred crop in China and is a legume like peas.  About two thirds of all manufactured foods contain derivatives or ingredients made from soya.  The soya bean is made up of 20% oil, 40% protein and 40% carbohydrate and ash.  The ash is a residue that remains complete after a soya bean has been burned, this residue does not contain any water.  

Soya Lecithin - is an emulsifier which is used in some chocolates, cereals, ice creams, sweets and spreads.  This is used to stabilise processed foods. 

Soya Oil - is used in a wide variety of non food products such as soaps, biological detergents and plastics.  You can read very detailed information about soya oil here.

Soya Flours - were developed in the 1940's and are used to extend the shelf life of many food products. Soya flours are gluten free.

Soya Proteins - were developed in the 1950's and are used to improve the consistency of meat products.  Soya proteins are also used a lot in dairy free products.  

The main allergy is to the proteins found within the soya bean but humans can also react to the polyunsaturated fatty oils.  Allergens in the soya bean are very similar to a major allergen from dust mites however a link is yet to be made between the two allergens.

Soya allergy symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Colitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Irritability 

Soya allergy and soya intolerance are not the same - you can read an explanation of the two here.

People with soya allergy are likely to be allergic to peanuts, peas, lentils, rye or barley flour.

Soya allergy is commonly found in children with eczema. 

1 in 50 adults are soya allergic.

Soya beans are rich in iron, B vitamins, calcium and zinc.

I've read on some websites that soya can affect hormone levels and fertility especially in males, there is sufficient evidence to suggest an effect on reproductive efficiency when consumed by animals, however according to the Institute of Food Research there's not enough evidence to prove or disprove these claims in humans and work is currently under way to discover the truth.    

The information I have written above is mostly taken from:
You can visit this website for more detailed information including the effects of soya. 

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