Living with a soy allergy requires a lot of detective work, scrutinizing every label trying to find just the slightest clue connecting any given product with soy. It requires patients, attention to detail, and knowing the facts, but sometimes coming in contact with the “dreaded bean” in some form or another can be unavoidable; take dining out for example. When you go to a restaurant your fate is basically in the hands of the “man behind the curtain”, or apron as the case may be. No matter how well you may have informed the wait staff, if even one person handling your meal is unfamiliar with the extent of the grip in which the soy industry has on the food industry you’re in for a rough night.
Dealing with the symptoms of an allergic reaction to soy can surly be an uncomfortable and even painful experience. Symptoms usually strike within an hour or so of ingesting the allergen, and can take on many forms. For me the itchy hands and swollen downright painful knuckles is the first to surface, and signs of it can remain for a week or so. I’ve been living with this food allergy for some time now, and as careful as I am and knowing what I know I still find myself from time to time wondering how, when, and where I came in contact? It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s the 1st or the 20th reaction they don’t become any less stressful but I have found ways to help my body (and my mind) cope. Because of my own personal beliefs concerning health and wellness, my methods are a natural approach to dealing with a food allergy. That’s not to say I haven’t tried the “over the counter” medicinal approach, but I found these to work just as well with none of the side effects.
The best immediate relief from the intense itching you will most likely experience is ice. Simply grab a couple of ice cubes from the freezer and rub them around your hands making sure to get all of the affected areas. Do this until the ice cubes have completely melted. This should keep the itching at bay, and you can safely repeat this as the symptoms resurface. Other good topical aids are creams or ointments containing Comfrey, Arnica Montana, Aloe Vera, Witch Hazel, etc. The healing and soothing abilities from these natural ingredients are untouched by most if not all of those manmade you’ll find in Rx’s. These are by no means a “cure alls”, but they should give you the immediate relief you’ll need to allow you to take further action, as well as the constant relief you’ll need, while the natural remedies below take effect.
The only true way to combat an allergic reaction though, is from within. Food allergies start with digestion, allowing undigested food molecules to enter the blood stream where your immune system begins attacking them as it would any unwanted bacteria. This inflammatory response causes cells within the body to release histamines all in an attempt to deal with this allergen, and ironically is the cause of all your discomfort. In order the aid the body in this fight you must help support the area’s most affected. This means support the immune system, digestion, and combat the inflammation at the source.
Let’s start with the immune system. There are many nutrients that aid an immune system in need, vitamins A,C,D,E as well as zinc to name a few, but possibly the most important is vitamin C. It’s definitely a nutrient you want on the front lines when your immune system is in battle; it’s vital to a strong healthy immune system, as well as effective at detoxifying the body when taken in larger doses (always consult your health practitioner for a proper safe dosage).
Another important type of nutrient to help support the body during an allergic reaction is flavonoids which are found in many fruits and vegetables. They have an amazing ability to reduce inflammation within the body, and recent studies have uncovered their ability to act as antioxidants. A great example of a flavonoid is Quercitin, and there are many great food sources containing this nutrient. Some of the foods with the highest levels per serving are apples, onions, leafy greens such as kale, and even black tea; I like black current tea since the black current berry is a good food source. You can also get higher doses from a supplement which can be found at most any health food store (always consult your health practitioner for a proper safe dosage).
Another good natural remedy worth mentioning for combating inflammation is Turmeric, an ingredient in curry and yellow mustard. It’s been used within the Indian culture for many years, and has only recently started to become recognized by western civilization. Although it can be found in supplement form I get my daily dosage in spice form; I recommend organic.
Your digestive system is another area that needs your full support during these trying times. Proper digestion is vital in preventing allergic reactions, and you can help support this by giving your body the enzymes and healthy bacteria (probiotics) it needs. A great digestive enzyme for such a task is Bromelain, and a great food source for this is pineapple. It’s best to stick with the whole uncut pineapple when possible, since it starts to lose its nutrients rather quickly once it’s been cut into. Both Bromelain and Probiotics are key players when it comes to proper digestion, and both are readily available in supplement form and can be found at most health food stores (always consult your health practitioner for a proper safe dosage).
Finally to address the “mind” part of “body and mind” when it comes to coping with allergic reactions, the secret weapon is breathing and when done properly can be a very effective tool. To control your breathing to the point of having absolute control over the body’s most fundamental actions, whether it’s slowing the heartbeat or increasing the body’s tolerance to pain, is at the core of many ancient beliefs. Controlled breathing is used in meditation, yoga, martial arts, as well as in childbirth. The key here is to breathe from your diaphragm not your chest, and this can be mastered by placing the palm of your hand over your stomach as you breathe concentrating on every breath. I’ve used this technique many times, and in combination with the remedies above I have found it to be amazingly useful.