Soy, lentil and other legume intolerance

Reader reports

  • Soy a problem with behaviour
  • 13 years of intolerance to soy
  • Soy and depression (4 reports)
  • Diet not working 100 per cent - another soy intolerance story
  • Another soy intolerance story: Wow, wow, wow a different boy ...
  • Soy and lentils contributed to migraines

How to avoid soy

Bloating and flatulence due to legumes
Scientific references
Further information

Keywords: soy, lentil, legumes, intolerance, galactosides, galactosidase, beano



Allergic reactions involving testable IgE mediated reactions to soy protein (1) and other legumes (2) are well documented in the medical literature, however there is very little about intolerance (pseudoallergic) reactions (3).

In the RPAH Elimination Diet (4), all legumes are listed as low in salicylates, amines and glutamates, and therefore suitable for the strict elimination diet. This includes soy beans and some soy products such as soy milk and soft tofu, lentils, chickpeas and all other dried beans but NOT broad (fava) beans or fermented soy products such as miso, soy cheese, tempeh, tamari or soy sauce.

The Food Intolerance Network Database (FIND) has received a number of reports about reactions to soy or lentils that do not appear to be allergic reactions, since soy allergy has been ruled out or reactions involve behaviour, depression and migraines. If the elimination diet isn't working 100 per cent for you, I recommend you have a look at all the reader stories below. These people have done a huge amount of research into products containing soy, soy-containing additives and ingredients, lentils and other legumes. Could this be your missing link?

As mentioned in a reader story below, it is true that some websites list lentils as high in tyramine but there is no scientific evidence for that. Lentils, soybeans and other legumes do contain other food chemicals that may cause problems in a few consumers, such as - for example - purines that are commonly associated with gout but possibly also with migraines.

  Reader reports

[1085] Soy a problem with behaviour (December 2011)

Two years ago I was having behavioural issues with my 4 year old girl and took out the artificial colours, flavours and preservatives on your list which solved most of our issues but about every two weeks we would see a flare up and holidays were particularly painful. About 6 weeks ago we began the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Elimination Diet - I fully expected that she would react to salicylates and amines etc but here was the outcome......

Weeks 1 & 2 of a low salicylate diet - we have a beautiful happy child, she is in kindy and her teachers reported that they saw a drastic change in her - the happiest she has been all year, not getting frustrated with her friends, wants to help and participate, is laughing and happy.

Weeks 3,4 & 5 saw us add in high salicylates and then amines and then glutamates - no reaction still a beautiful child.....

Week 6 - added a soy challenge - 2 tablespoons of soy sauce Saturday night and a small handful of choc chips on Sunday morning in muffins (soy lecithin), by lunchtime she was having tantrums over ridiculous things, she was sulky, teary and generally unhappy. We also saw this same reaction half way through week 3 and 4 at her sisters birthday as I unknowingly used white chocolate in her birthday cake (soy lecithin)....

So the outcome was she has to have a diet that doesn't contain artificial colours/flavours or preservatives, soy or soy derivatives. I can't believe that for the last two years soy has been the culprit all along - the poor kid!! The occasional treat of chocolate and plain Arnotts biscuits were just topping her up so that we saw it at weird times, holidays worse as usually they get more treats on holidays! Our dietician was really shocked that a protein could cause that reaction - Tiffany by email

[314] 13 years of intolerance to soy (April 2004)

I am soy intolerant. More specifically I suffer from a legume intolerance which is only now apparent after 13 years of suffering and frustration. My intolerance manifests itself in the form of chronic idiopathic urticaria, meaning never-ending hives of unknown origin. These hives are large unbelievably itchy red welts that, in a severe attack can cover almost all of the body. My symptoms got worst and extended to lethargy, aching and swelled joints, sleepless nights and eventually an emotional feeling of hopelessness of ever being able to stop the relentless onslaught.

As many people discover when suffering from a health condition, not a lot of other people know much about it and the medical profession (as good as they are) can only help to a point.

My story began when I was 30 years old and developed a few welts for no apparent reason since I was otherwise healthy. I went to well-known allergy experts and my GP. It was obvious to them that I was suffering a food sensitivity. After I failed a skin test for allergic reactions, they focused on a food intolerance type problem.

I undertook a series of elimination diets starting with a GP 'allergy expert' in order to eliminate the obvious and common culprits. Soy was one such test whereby I had to stop consuming dairy products and 'overdose' on soy milk. No change! And so was the result for every other test. Each common food type was evaluated and the end result was no change.

After a year or two, I was referred to a local leading immunologist (a very nice and knowledgeable man) as no clear cause was becoming evident and the symptoms were worsening. I saw a dietician and with both their help proceeded on the RPA chemical sensitivity elimination diet in order to determine if salicylates or glutamates etc were a problem for me. After months of that there was no change.

Years went by of chopping and changing, trying different things and variations to elimination diets, even getting down to decaf coffee, toast and margarine for breakfast, salad for lunch and fish and steamed vegies or salads with dressings for tea with a packet of twisties or chocolate treat.

I still had no significant change over 5 to 6 weeks. My wife was at her wits end also having to shop for special food and cook different meals. I worked shift work. One thing did stick out - soy sauce caused me an immediate affect. Clearly I shouldn't have soy, but what else was causing the reactions? After all I only had soy sauce with a very occasional Chinese meal or rice.

In the end there was nothing the immunologist could do but maintain my antihistamine intake, and put me on cyclosporine, used in transplant patents, a drug which I could not take for long with bad side effects. Its purpose was to suppress the immunological system and 'shock' it into performing normally. This did not work. I had ultrasounds and blood tests - with no clear result. Everything seemed normal, yet the symptoms persisted.

I utterly refused to accept that I could not stop this thing from happening to me. After eliminating so many food types, the cause of my intolerance had to come from something I was in contact with every day. I even started considering the possibility of 'environmental sensitivity'.

The most important aspect of identifying my problem was keeping a record of what I ate every day for years. Eventually, when the breakthrough came, it was due to improved food labelling on Australian packaging combined with information about food ingredients.

One afternoon, one of my kids left an empty Cheezels packet on the bench in the kitchen. I picked it up to dispose of it and, as I'd been doing habitually for years, read the food ingredients label. To my utter surprise and confusion, it said 'contains milk, dairy and soy products'. I always liked twisties and cheezels, but never read anything in the past that alerted me to soy products within the ingredients. I closely read the ingredients list. No mention of soy. That's odd, I thought.

I then recalled being tested for soy with the 'overdose' of soy milk routine. It didn't make sense. I then went to an article about soy labelling and there it was, 'May be described as lecithin, vegetable gum, vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein or vegetable starch'.

I referred back to the Cheezel labelling and there it was: 'vegetable gum'. I then went to the West Australian Health Department's 'Food Additives Guide'. I looked through and found all the numbers relative to these titles, particularly lecithin (322) used as an antioxidant in many foods and checked out my pantry and fridge. More than half the food I had contained at least one of these soy based ingredients, but not one made mention or reference to them being a derivative of soy.

I stopped eating anything that contained ANY soy based ingredients and within 24 hours there was a major change!

I awoke the next morning to find only 3 small welts on my body and after 13 years, no need for any medication. I could not believe it. I thought I'd made a mistake or it was just luck that I didn't have the welts. I was almost in a state of denial that it was really happening.

I persisted with the elimination of these ingredients and over the following few weeks, lost almost all symptoms. No more lethargy, swollen joints or rashes caused from excessive histamine flowing through my body and virtually no welts.

The more I read labelling, the more products I found containing soy derivatives not called 'soy'. Ingredients that I had read before but never realised were actually soy. For example, regular manufactured bread and margarine with nothing else was filling me with soy and I didn't know it. The bread contained 'soy flour' which in previous years was labelled simply 'contains flour' (which I assumed was wheat flour) and the margarine contained lecithin 322.

I love chocolate. ALL chocolate contains lecithin 322 made from soy.

So there you have it. What doctors thought was a dairy problem was a soy problem. What they thought was a 'chemical' problem was a soy problem and so it went on. All because soy is not called soy on the food labelling of most products.

That situation is improving and I intend to help make that happen. Even when I speak to doctors and dieticians, not to mention workmates, friends and family, no one ever knows that soy is in so much of their diet.

There was a period where 'experts' would tell me I needed to exercise more, or stop stressing or don't work in an office. That advice made a bad situation worse. I did find some relief in researching alternative medicine options and have continued to adhere to some of those findings. At one stage they helped me to focus on the task at hand, providing relief from the worry of 'unending sufferance' and helping to clear my mind. To this day I use a particular liquid soap, aluminium free deodorant and do not apply sprays or scents to my body.

I am aware of the extension of my intolerance to other legumes. I still suffer every 5 days roughly from a few welts or itch, but nothing compared to what I used to get.

It is now easier to identify a 'bean' (legume) type reaction. I've stopped eating beans (obviously), peas, anything with vanilla in it and coffee. Not because of the caffeine, but because it's a bean! Snack foods (all types), all biscuits except pure shortbread (Walker's Glengarry plain), all chocolates and confectionery (except for barley sugar lollies - most brands) are off limits because they contain a soy based additive in them.

As well as 322 (antioxidant) I also avoid additives 476,471,492 (emulsifiers), vegetable gums 410,412,415,416,461 (not all soy but derivatives of various beans), vegetable gums & vegetable protein, TVP (textured vegetable protein) and vegetable starch (even if they do not specifically state soy, I don't take the chance). Soya beans, soya meal, soy flour (very common in breads and cakes), soya sauce, miso, tofu and chickpeas. In fact quite a lot of 'health foods' are grossly unhealthy for me. Packaged health foods early always contain a soy additive.

These other legumes give me a small reaction but soy brings out the worst reaction of all. It may be immediate, it may take 4 hours or it may take 24 hours, depends on what type of soy product it was or how much of it I consumed. I can go up to 10 days easy now without any medication and if I do get a slight reaction after that time, one antihistamine will fix it - and fast.

No, I'm not 100% cured but around 90% cured. I am managing a good 'normal' quality of life, not taking medications and continually improving through self-control and discipline of my dietary intake.

I am happy to provide alternatives that I have found that allow me a 'normal' eating habit and has no affect on the rest of the family. I strongly suggest to anyone who, like me is at a complete loss to identify the cause of their intolerance and suffers from long term 'idiopathic urticaria' to simply look for these ingredients in their shopping and STOP consuming them. Like me it could be the hidden soy components in the various food types that are causing you grief. You'll know within a very short period of time (48 hours I would suggest) if soy is a major culprit that's causing you your poor health.

I recommend alternatives like soyfree bread mixes (some pita and Lebanese breads have only wheat flour), use butter instead of margarine etc. Fresh meats, veges, fruit, salads and cheeses are OK. Check the labels. Jams and some spreads are OK. 'Cafe 26' salad dressing made in Perth is the only dressing I have found without soy additive. Soon I aim to research spices that may be of a legume origin. On goes the quest. I hope this recollection of events may help someone else find relief. - Wayne, WA

Soy and depression (4 reports)

Question: my daughter has tried soymilk several times but it makes her depressed, intrusive, argumentative and very negative (feels the whole world is against her). She seems totally unaware of this occurring, even when pointed out. Is this a reaction you are aware of? from FAILSAFE newsletter #50

Answer: see 3 stories below

[534] Soy and depression 1 (January 2007)

Whenever my son drinks soy or eats soy products he spends most of his time crying, often about nothing that he can pin point. He becomes resistive to discipline and is reluctant to do his work at school. He becomes tired and will often fall sleep in the afternoon. I'm obviously not 100% certain that this is what it is but it sure does seem coincidental - email, Qld 

[533] Soy and depression 2 (January 2007)

Just responding to question in newsletter #50 about depressive reactions to soy - my daughter reacts the same to cows milk as to soy, even small amounts of soy in anything. Exactly as the question in the newsletter said, "it makes her depressed, intrusive, argumentative and very negative..." 

[532] Soy and depression 3 - unexplained fevers and hallucinations (January 2007)

As a baby and toddler, my son had constant unexplained fevers as part of his never ending list of reactions. It wasn't till he was 6 years old and he had a few unexplained fevers with hallucinations that we found these came from soya beans. He has always been picky with soy products... 

[702] Diet not working 100 per cent - another soy intolerance story (November 2008)

We have had a major breakthrough with my nine-year-old daughter. Over a year ago we did the elimination diet for her and worked out what her intolerances were - severe for dairy, moderate to severe for salicylates, mild for amines and reacted to all the additives. I wrote to you some time back noting that my daughter who had finally started drinking soy milk (in fact she was guzzling it down), was bed wetting again and old behaviours were returning. You asked if she was OK with soy.

So we removed soy (or so we thought) and the bedwetting stopped, unless she consumed anything with soy flour in it. For the next year we lived with a much improved daughter but it niggled at me that she still didn't seem 100 per cent and I thought she could be better. When we eliminated gluten and wheat she always had good days but I couldn't bring myself to take these from her already restricted diet and she found this very hard to cope with. She also continued to suffer from eczema behind the knees and in creases, but nothing extreme. I saw the dietitian, thinking that maybe I had re-introduced salicylates too much too soon, but when she had her baddays, going back to failsafe did not always resolve the issue. The dietitian was great and gave me some RPAH booklets and some good advice about nutrition, but I knew I was missing something.

So I trawled the internet, did hours of research, contacted scientists and then went and saw my GP for a referral to an immunologist, hoping that maybe there was a detectable food allergy of some sort - how nice and straightforward that would have been! Of course nothing showed up in a skin prick test, but the immunologist was a full bottle on the intolerance issue and at least didn't think I was a complete nutter. He said that I could wear myself out trying to look for more intolerances but that I should be grateful we had achieved this level of success for her - no-one was perfect after all and I should appreciate how she was now.

It has only been because we are now trying to figure out my three-year-old daughter's eczema that we have finally put together the last piece in my nine-year-olds jigsaw. She had had a particularly bad couple of days: instructions in one ear and out the other, deliberately annoying, disobedient, room like a tip etc and I was re-exploring the fed up website looking for clues about eczema when I came across the story "13 years of soy intolerance" (story 314 from April 2004), which I had read before. That writer mentioned that he avoided Soy Lecithin 322, emulsifiers 476, 471, 492 and vegetable gums from soy and other beans (410, 412, 415, 416, 461) as well as chick peas and tofu, because many soy intolerant people have cross reactivity issues with soy derivatives and other legumes. Of course! I rushed to my cupboards and discovered that for the past year and a half I have been feeding her these things on a daily basis: 471 was in her Arnott's plain water crackers, the Canola puff pastry and the Baker's delight plain white iced finger buns and also in the brand of rice milk I was currently buying (Freedom Foods) because the Vitasoy rice milk was out of stock. In effect over the past week we had done an unintentional soy challenge because I had made chickpea dip from the Friendly Foods cook book, which she was practically drinking she loved it so much, my "Granny's Beef and Bean Soup", which contained chickpea and mung bean sprouts, lentils, kidney beans and butter beans, plus mince in pastry for dinner. Hallelujah! Because her intolerance to soy is mild, it took doses on a daily basis to cause problems and they were low level, unlike the obvious ones when she drank bucketloads of soy milk.

I wonder if other people have similar issues with soy that they are not yet aware of? The tricky thing is that even a mild intolerance will be an issue because these other things are in products typically consumed on a daily basis. Perhaps you could post something on the site in case they might want to explore this a bit more. For a long time I have felt, that I knew the diet was working but she wasn't as good as she could be. Could you find a way to thank the person who wrote story 314 who chose to share this information for the benefit of others? My daughter has always seemed a little upset that even though she was sticking to food that was Ok for her she was still having occasional bad days and getting in trouble at school, though nowhere near the scale of how she used to be. This information will be truly life altering for her (and us!) and I'd like him to know that his kindness in wanting to help others has made a difference in our lives, just as yours has Sue. - Cherie, WA (note that Nuttelex Original and Lite are free from soy the 471 is derived from vegetable oil and the lecithin 322 is derived from sunflower oil)

[1063] Another soy intolerance story: Wow, wow, wow a different boy (July 2011)

My son is eight and daughter six years old respectively. We have been failsafe for approximately 7 years of that time. I thought I had it pretty much down what they could and couldn't have.

Last week however I stopped buying soy milk as my son was using so much of it, it wasn't funny. I have always tried to steer them to rice milk, which my daughter loves! thank goodness. The soy milk was for others in the home but our son loves it and stopped having the rice milk when soy was around.

I cut this out last week. I seem to have a different boy. We have always just thought that removing what we did know was causing problems was as good as it got. That he would always be a LOUD ACTIVE HYPER BOY. It was much worse if he ate things he shouldn't. He reacts quite badly to amines, salicylates, colours are atrocious for him etc.

Can it really be the soy? Can it really be this simple? My son is now receptive, loving, easy to talk to, to explain things to, has stopped whinging, being aggressive, doing annoying things to his sister and to us. Even stopped all the repetitive things as well.

As I write this he is sitting watching some tv, his room is clean, he is dressed for school, his jobs are done ie take the dog for a walk, feed the chickens etc. He is not 'in my face', he is not running around annoying his sister (she doesn't know what to do with this as she is so used to it, she is even trying to get his attention to be how he always is with her).

Wow, wow, wow. If it is not the soy milk then I am at a loss as to what it could have been. I now have a son that is sooooo easy to love and cuddle AND it has been a quiet house too, not just from him, but I don't feel the urge to yell to get my point across for the 15th time. The lesson here is - never give up trying to find what may be happening with your child. It probably is not normal, and you may be missing something. - Cathryn 

[1089] Soy and lentils contributed to migraines (January 2012)

I emailed you some time ago about my chronic migraines. After having been to GPs, specialists, naturopaths, etc, I went to a dietitian. She gave me the booklet produced by the Royal Prince Alfred Allergy unit. I also purchased your book, "Fed Up". This letter is to give you an update because it has good success.

Until recently I had no relief from those persistent migraines and was getting really desperate - again! Yet I knew there was something I was eating that did not like me - or rather my system did not like it. I was concerned my protein intake was a bit low, and not being into lentils, and because they are listed in the booklet as low in amines and salicylates, I decided to try some red lentils boiled, and had a nice helping one afternoon for lunch. That night - 12.15am - I experienced a most horrific headache in my brain like the blood vessels wanted to burst! Knowing that the migraine medication works on blood vessels I had an imigran which helped settle the reaction somewhat. If it had got any worse I would've phoned for an ambulance because it was a bit frightening.

Later that week when I had recovered from the after-effects of what I knew to be the lentils, I went looking on the internet. Anyway to cut a long story short, to my amazement, the low or restricted tyramine diet for persons on MAOI drugs lists lentils and soy as high in tyramine*. Many years ago, my doctor prescribed a MAOI for a few months to help me over a bit of a rough patch, and I was told to not have "cheese, vegemite and broad beans". Anyway, being a lover of cheeses at the time, and being deprived of one of my favourite foods for some weeks, I thought, "hey! surely a little half-inch cube wouldn't hurt....". Well I'll tell you now that it did hurt!!! That evening I had the most horrific and frightening experience in the brain that truly felt like every blood vessel in the brain was going to explode with blood all over the ceiling. I was so ill and frightened. The experience I had after the lentils was the exact type I had with the cheese while taking the MAOI.

Now I was onto something ... I went through the foods that I had been consuming regularly over these past years and saw that the full cream powdered milk contains emulsifier from soy!!! The only time I ever ate soy beans was about 15 years ago, and I was violently ill after eating them. Didn't think much about it at the time, just didn't like the soy flavour and even now the smell of things like soy turn me off. I have the same reaction to chick peas. After reading the soy stories on your website (in particular [314] and [702] - what they have said - discovered by personal experience - I can confirm by my own experience.) It certainly helps to unravel the mystery of my on-going migraines. And I am not surprised that my migraines were aggravated when I had Sustagen or Ensure as supplements - they contain soy derivatives. I even checked out baby food formulas and they too contain soy.

The multi-vitamin/mineral supplement I have been taking also contains soy - the vitamin E is derived from soy. The company was really understanding when I explained the situation, and very kindly refunded me the money. The soy was not listed as an ingredient, because the vitamin was derived form it.

Since stopping having powdered milk (I used it to bolster up my normal milk, most of the time) I have not had a migraine headache from foods.

I am aware that I still am prone to migraines from environmental factors - odours, (funnily enough the odours that trigger an instant migraine are those foods high in amines, like strong tomatoes, spicy foods, femented foods etc), stormy weather, sensory overload (flashing lights, etc).

This is a great find for me. To experience a head that does not wake up every morning in "migraine mode", and have confidence in eating foods that are low in amines, I can be a lot more relaxed about eating. It has given me so much relief - almost unbelievable!!! - Patricia, NSW (* RPAH researchers do not agree that legumes are high in amines and nor do the majority of amine sensitive failsafers. All legumes are listed as low in amines except broad beans which are very high; however lentils and other legumes do contain other natural chemicals that could cause problems e.g. purines which can be associated with gout – Sue)

  How to avoid soy

Soy is included in the FAO list of the 8 most significant food allergens, thus in Australia it must be included in the allergen statement on the packet.

Soy containing foods and ingredients

  • soy
  • soya, soja
  • soy beans, soy sprouts
  • soy grits, soy meal
  • soy flour (very common in breads and cakes)
  • soy milk, soy cheese, cheese, soy yoghurt, soy based frozen dessert, soy based carob & chocolate
  • soy sauce, tamari, shoyu (Japanese sauce)
  • miso
  • natto
  • okara
  • tofu, bean curd, tempeh
  • soy protein, soy protein isolate or concentrate
  • endamame (made from green soybeans)
  • yuba

Products which might contain soy 

  • Hydrolysed soy protein or hydrolysed protein (soy)
  • Hydrolysed plant protein HVP
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein HVP
  • Textured vegetable protein TVP
  • Vegetable stock
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch
  • Flavour, flavouring natural/artificial

Possible soy containing additives

  • 322 lecithin** (if made from soy - it can also be made from sunflower oil)
  • 410,412,415,416,461 vegetable gums, guar gum, gum arabic (not all soy but derivatives of various beans)
  • 476,471,492 emulsifiers
  • Soy lecithin: studies have shown that most people with soy allergies can safely eat food with soy lecithin, but Wayne is not one of them
  • Soy oil: is considered to be safe for most soy allergic people unless cold or expeller pressed (may be called vegetable oil)
  • Margarine: note that Nuttelex Original and Lite are free from soy the 471 is derived from vegetable oil and the lecithin 322 is derived from sunflower oil

Further reading: the Food Standards Authority consumer information factsheet on avoiding soy (and thanks to Wayne!)

  Bloating and flatulence due to legumes

Dried beans and other legumes are rich in nutrition and fibre but for people who have irritable bowel symptoms or those not used to a lot of beans in one sitting, they can also cause bloating, stomach discomfort and flatulence (as shown in the infamous scene from Blazing Saddles).

This is due to complex sugars called alpha-galactosides which humans cannot digest in the small intestine due to a natural lack of an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. As undigested alpha-galactosides pass into the large intestine, fermentation by gas-producing bacteria can lead to intestinal flatulence. This hard-to-digest effect of legumes is considered healthy because it controls blood sugar levels, but it can result in painful bloating and loose bowel motions for people with IB symptoms.

The windy effects of beans can be reduced by:

  • eating alpha-galactosidase-producing lactobacilli, which may be why Indian meals that contain legumes are usually accompanied by yoghurt. Not all yoghurts have this effect, and it could be that none of the Australian yoghurts contain suitable cultures - for example, research has shown that Lactobacillus fermentum is effective (5) but as far as I can see this strain is patented and not available in Australia. (Note that yoghurt is moderate in amines and therefore not suitable for the strict elimination diet unless strained to produce quark - see our guide on making quark).
  • taking Beano - this US product contains the enzyme (alpha-galactosidase) that can reduce the flatulence associated with bean eating in some people. However, because it works by breaking down indigestible sugars into simpler, more digestible sugars, it may negate the health benefits of eating beans on blood sugar levels. Diabetics are warned to consult their doctor before use. In a controlled trial of Beano, the number of flatulence events in the 5th hour after a meal was reduced, but there was no difference found in the extent of bloating or pain following the meal (6) (see manufacturer's website)
  • Soaking beans and discarding soaking water before cooking has been found to reduce indigestible sugars (7).
  • start slowly, e.g. 3-4 beans or chickpeas or 1 tsp of failsafe hummus or bean paste per day and increase slowly over a few weeks as recommended by dietitians.

Reader report: We have been seeing the dietitian you recommended since mid last year. Under her guidance, our daughter is eating a few more foods - including a couple of moderates - due to very starting with very small amounts and increasing gradually. This worked for low chemical legumes and pulses too (our daughter previously had IBS reactions to them) - she now eats good quantities of beans etc including the delicious Howard's Bean paste! - thanks to Carol

  Scientific references

See also 'Straight talk about soy' from Harvard School of Public Health with many excellent references

1. Hodge L, Swain A, Faulkner-Hogg K. Food allergy and intolerance. Aust Fam Physician. 2009;38(9):705-7. 

2. Shulman KI, Walker SE. Refining the MAOI diet: tyramine content of pizzas and soy products.J Clin Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;60(3):191-3.

The authors analysed the tyramine content of a variety of pizzas, soy sauves and other soybean products. A tyramine level of 6 mg or less was considered safe. They warned about tyramine in aged cheeses (though not mozzarella) and a marked variability in soy products, including clinically significant tyramine levels in tofu when stored for a week and high tyramine content in one of the soy sauces and concluded that all soybean products should be avoided by people taking MAIOs. Others disagree, see next reference.There is no tyramine in soybeans, although it can build up during fermentation. Where does that leave soy milk?

4. Dr P Ken Gillman, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI), Dietary Restrictions, Tyramine, Cheese and Drug Interactions (Abbreviated) 2.3.2 March 2013

This review summarises more recent and original scientific research papers about tyramine than any previously existing publication - and there is no mention of lentils containing tyramine. Fava beans are the only legumes mentioned.

5. LeBlanc JG and others. Ability of Lactobacillus fermentum to overcome host a-galactosidase deficiency, as evidenced by reduction of hydrogen excretion in rats consuming soya a-galacto-oligosaccharides. BMC Microbiol. 2008; 8: 22.

6. Ganiats TG and others. Does Beano prevent gas? A double-blind crossover study of oral alpha-galactosidase to treat dietary oligosaccharide intolerance. J Fam Pract. 1994 Nov;39(5):441-5.

7. Queiroz Kda S and others. Soaking the common bean in a domestic preparation reduced the contents of raffinose-type oligosaccharides but did not interfere with nutritive value. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Aug;48(4):283-9.

  Further information

Introduction to food intolerance

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Elimination Diet Handbook with food and shopping guide, 2009 available from libraries and

Fed Up: understanding how food affects your child and what you can do about it by Sue Dengate, Random House 2008.

The information given is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor for underlying illness. Before beginning dietary investigation, consult a dietician with an interest in food intolerance. You can see our list of experienced and supportive dietitians 

© Sue Dengate September 2018