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A Personal Tale

Food allergies can cause IBS. They just can. Soy food products are the allergens that I have a personal "beef" with. These processed (concentrated) forms of soy proteins have caused the following symptoms:

Excessive Diarrhea
Blood in the Stool

Other common food allergens are wheat and milk.


I became sensitive to soy, unknowingly at first, after I hit 40 years of age (go figure!).

I started having severe, protracted diarrhea. Tried everything, read everything, nothing worked. Then one day I found blood in my stool and, of course, freaked out. Went to a "very good" proctologist, got a colonoscopy, and was told I had severe IBS. Meds helped - that I would take for the "rest of my life". But problems persisted. It got so bad that I had to have surgery for complications regarding bacteria leaking through the walls of my inflamed bowels. Just gross.

Went to another "highly regarded" proctologist who was "cutting edge" because he was trying new IBS related surgeries and might shed new light on causes. No good info from him either.

I had been tested for wheat auto-immune issues (celiac) in case that was the problem but was neg. I was not milk intolerant.

Then I read about food allergens - you know, the common ones that you read on all the food, milk protein, gluten.

So I thought maybe food allergies were the culprit. I tried a two week "elimination diet".

Eliminated wheat - IBS persisted.
Eliminated milk- still no luck.

Eliminated soy- Bam!

After two weeks my IBS was gone. I mean completely gone. I was not on IBS med's.

I rushed to do another colonoscopy with the original Dr and was told that I had a clean, healthy colon. He told me to come back in 12 months (that's doctor lingo for 1 year) if I still had no symptoms and he would do another one. Check. "Clean", he declared, much to his dismay. "You no longer have IBS."

I realized that my IBS started when I started drinking soy lattes at Starbucks and also soy protein in smoothies. Then I realized through elimination diets that soy lecithin was also causing equally serious IBS.

Think you don't eat much soy? Think again.

I have found that processed (concentrated soy in the form of soy protein and soy lecithin (an emulsifier) is widely used in many (most?) common packaged foods at the grocery store:

Crackers (soy lecithin)
Cakes (soy lecithin)
Chocolate candy like Snickers, Hershey's, etc (soy lecithin)
Chicken noodle soup (isolated soy protein)
Pizza (soy lecithin)


Yes, if you have IBS, food allergies could be the problem.

Soy is likely most common because it is less known in it's processed forms and thought of as a "vegetable" (kind of like ketchup is a vegetable). Wheat (gluten) can be an issue too. Or milk. (No, I'm not talking about Celiac autoimmune disease or milk (lactose) digestive intolerance, I'm talking about FOOD ALLERGIES.)

Let's start with this early-age fact: what is a common side effect that doctors always tell new mothers about soy milk for their new born babies? BLOOD IN THE STOOL AND DIARRHEA. Hmmmm.
So the problem just goes away when we get older? Well, for most people, the answer is actually yes because they grow out of their allergies. But what about the rest of them? Or those who's allergies emerge later in life? They have issues.

Secondly - people who have food allergies often don't know it because doctors can't test for HOW a food allergy will affect a person. Some food allergy sufferers get stuffy sinuses, some headaches, some rashes, some IBS, etc. Some people get all the symptoms. Allergy tests such as blood and skin tests don't tell you HOW the allergens affect you, they just tell you WHAT the allergens are that affect you. More importantly, current tests don't test for processed (concentrated) soy products. There is no commonly available test for soy lecithin or isolated soy protein.

Thirdly, let's keep it simple for a minute. If you are having a problem that is specific to your bowels, it very well caused by something that you are EATING. Bowels process FOOD. Hello? Yes Dr's, it can be that simple sometimes.

Good doctors resort to make you keep a specific food diary and then use process of elimination to find the problem. But doctors are usually not set up to follow up on this program with their patients because it is time-consuming, the burden is on the patient to follow through, and the doctors don't have any processed-food allergens on their lists in the first place.

Also, most doctors are sadly, usually clueless about this issure (especially proctologists and allergists - ironically) because there is not significant clinical data on the subject to date. So they can't comment publicly as a professional, even if they thought it was true, without the chance of getting sued by interested parties (like the folks that make the products). So the real work is left to nutritionists who are visited by only a small part of the population.

Besides, what doctor who has been treating your IBS for a living for years wants to say, "Actually, just stop eating soy"?

So try a simple elimination diet (two weeks) to see if your IBS symptoms go away.

First eliminate soy. Then wheat. Then milk. Those are the most common food protein allergens.

Good luck!!

I hope this article helps somebody.

Steve C. Dallas TX
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