Monday, May 31, 2010

The Social Contract TV Show Episode with APD

More than just Rosie O'Donnell is hitting the media with Auditory Processing Disorder.  For example, here is a TV show episode with Auditory Processing Disorder:

Nick plays cards with his daughter Marika. He's telling her what cards he has and she says he can't win if he keeps doing that. Nick asks "How about if I tickle you while I tell you?" and Marika shrieks and laughs. Taub and Kutner come in to do the tests with an overly cheerful greeting on Kutner's part and Nick wonders out loud if Kutner isn't just a little too happy, maybe being more interested in the problem than the patient. Taub assures him that they are going to shove this humongous probe up his nose without any undue enjoyment.
Taub asks Marika to excuse them, but she doesn't get the hint, and mom Audrey begins an explanation about Marika having this little 'auditory processing difficulty' when Nick just asks her directly to hop off the bed and she does with no sign of impairment.
House 517 - The Social Contract

This description is interesting as the writer is passing judgment on Marika.

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Does Your Child Have a Head Tilt?

Human Eye with different lines. The line of si...Image via Wikipedia
 "This could be a sign that your child favors one eye over the other. She may tilt her head because each eye may have a different visual acuity at near or in the distance. Perhaps she sees better and clearer with one of her eyes.

Another cause of your child's head tilt could be the result of a convergence insufficiency or a convergence excess. These conditions may indicate that she is having difficulty teaming both eyes together without experiencing blur or double vision. Her coping strategy could be to suppress the visual information received by one eye, shutting it off, in effect, by tilting her head."

Eye Can Too! Read: Does Your Child Have a Head Tilt?:

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Raw milk: A dangerous beverage or human right?

A bottle of green-top (raw, unpasturised) milk...Image via Wikipedia
 "The federal government and virtually all public health agencies oppose consumption of raw milk because it can carry dangerous bacteria including E. coli , listeria and campylobacter. Last month, 13 people in Michigan were sickened by campylobacter in an outbreak tied to raw milk sold at a northern Indiana farm."

Julie's Health Club: Raw milk: A dangerous beverage or human right?:

On the other hand, French people drink raw milk all the time.  I remember when I first came to France that I had problem tolerating the milk.

Now that I haven't drank regular milk in a while and have been relatively casein free,  I am wondering if I can tolerate raw milk.  There is a farm near me that sells it.  The farm is run by a veterinarian so I feel good about the way he cares for his animals.  His milk production is pretty small scale.  So I think at least his milk might be OK, the news articles not withstanding.
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Strength Training Aids Mental Acuity in Women, Study Finds -

This is a transaxial slice of the brain of a 5...Image via Wikipedia
 "Older women who did an hour or two of strength training exercises each week had improved cognitive function a year later, scoring higher on tests of the brain processes responsible for planning and executing tasks, a new study has found."

Vital Signs - Strength Training Aids Mental Acuity in Women, Study Finds -
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Image representing Curemark as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase
The MIND Institute at UC Davis is enrolling participants in clinical trials for an autism treatment developed by Curemark LLC, a drug research and development company in Rye, N.Y.
Curemark's treatment is based on research that shows enzyme deficiencies in autistic children cause an inability to digest protein. This affects the production of amino acids, the building blocks of chemicals essential for brain function.
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Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010

WESTONBIRT, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 21:  Peo...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Kind of Missed Blogging Against Disabilism Day on May 1 but there are a number of posts that show disabled people's feelings. 
Diary of a Goldfish: Blogging Against Disablism Day 2010

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Detoxifying the Home: Pollution is Personal

The hazard symbol for carcinogenic chemicals i...Image via Wikipedia
According to the New York Times, Pollution is Personal.   I think we have just had many years of deregulation and the chickens are coming home to roost.   Nobody likes a government bureaucrat nerdily poking into obscure details; but, maybe it is the minutia of manufacturing that we've lost touch of.  We are now in a "service-based" economy and are fundamentally removed from making things so we don't know what's involved.  That is, until it comes to bite us. 

Pollution, we’re learning, is personal. Each year brings reports of a new domestic horror, from the medical waste in the municipal water to the carcinogenic bacteria sprouting in your shower head. Your child’s sippy cup is leaching the endocrine disrupter BPA into his milk (let’s not even think about what’s in his nonflammable pajamas), and there are phthalates in your shampoo. And if your (bleached, pesticide-soaked cotton) bedding doesn’t kill you, your clock radio just might, say those who classify electromagnetic frequencies as carcinogens.
Books like “Clean,” a “detox” lifestyle guide out last year, written by Alejandro Junger, a telegenic Uruguayan cardiologist, prescribe a course of juice fasting and something more: a whole home detox, with filtered air, filtered water, organic cotton sheets and bleach-free cleaning products.
Dr. Junger, whose own tale of chemically induced irritable bowel syndrome and depression will curl your hair, is certainly not the only home detox evangelist. In “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things,” out in January, the authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, Canadian environmentalists, embarked on a road test of self-contamination, eating food microwaved in plastic containers, scarfing tuna and drinking out of Mr. Smith’s son’s baby bottles, then testing their blood for levels of phthalates, mercury and other toxins, all of which spiked.

Going Green like this takes a lot of effort and provokes a lot of anxiety in stores as you try to select products that  aren't harmful.  I am a lazy Green.  If it's easy, I'll do it.
On the other hand, if you look at the potential impact of these chemicals on developmental disorders as well as your overall health, you do get concerned.
Detoxification for developmental disorders is  highly controversial with Mainstream Medicine thinking that, well, gee, there's some connection somewhere, somehow between genes, environment and illness but offering no realistic guidelines as to what to do about this.  So, we have folks offering up samples and paying out of their own pocket for testing and chelation treatments, drugs that bind to iron and make it easier to excrete it out of the body. Many individuals with autism, etc do have all sorts of heavy metals in their bodies.  There has been the beginnings of a trial to study chelation but it was cancelled.  So, we are left without studies to show  the definitive effect of chelation is and the exact protocols that work.  If we had these studies, we could go back to the insurance companies and get reimbursed for these treatments.  We could potentially sue manufacturers for creating harmful products.

What to do?  Nobody likes spending a lot of money and resources needlessly.  Chelation, if done by the wrong practitioner, can be very harmful.  On the other hand, there are lots of individuals on the autistic spectrum who have a lot of nasty chemicals in their bodies and, on an annecdotal basis, improve after detoxification.
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Listening, learning, and the brain:

The human brainImage via Wikipedia
Musicians are better than non-musicians at recognizing speech in noisy environments. Musicians demonstrated faster neural timing, enhanced representation of speech harmonics, and less degraded response morphology in noise. That is to say, they were more effective communicating in noisy environments. “Converting key elements that comprise speech sounds–consonants, syllables, timing and harmonics–was maintained with greater fidelity in musicians despite the disruptive influence of background noise,” said lead researcher Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor at and director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. 

Music triggers changes in the brainstem as well as in the cortex which means that music training may not only improve a person’s ability to decipher different tones but also enhances reading and speech functions, because the brain stem is a pathway for both music and language.

Groupe Compas � Listening, learning, and the brain:

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Results from Vision Examination 5/26

An example of the Brock String in use for trea...Image of Brock String via Wikipedia
Went to see Dr. Herzberg for my 6 month vision examination.  This time she focused on binocular vision and 3D issues.  I was a little tired because I had an appointment with my holistic doctor earlier in the day in Quakertown and then drove to Glen Mills on the other side of  Philadelphia and then back north past philadelphia to Princeton NJ to have the eye examination -- 2 hours and 22 minutes of driving.  I wish everything was closer but you go where you can get the right people to help you.

She had a little chart with circles on it and a pen.  I was supposed to look at the pen point and have the circles start to fuse and pop out.  Unfortunately, I was too distracted by the pen point and couldn't get the circles to do what it was supposed to.  So, she brought out the Brock string and had me make Xs with the string which I did successfully.  I do the Brock string exercises on a daily basis so this was cool.

Well, the upshot of the visit is that we are going to have 6 more sessions of vision therapy and we will work on 3D vision in space.  Since I am getting my timing issues under control both with the Interactive Metronome work that I have been doing at A Total Approach and the audio visual integration work we are doing in vision therapy, we will work on the drills integrating timed beeps with visual memory exercises.

We had tested my reading and I am reading at 209 words per minute -- a junior high school level fluency.  How the heck did that happen?  You can see that I can read some pretty dense stuff!  But, I think when I read for meaning, I do end up re-reading a lot of passages and my eyes jump around.  So I will also do a home-based reading therapy that puts words out in a single line across the computer screen -- at first, in small phrases and then in ever larger phrases and then just rolling across the screen.

Then I will come back and see Dr. Herzberg in 2 months.
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Heirloom Wheat?

more sunday bread bakingImage by theeeeta via Flickr
Heirlooms can come in all kinds of forms, so why not wheat?

"As a grower of wheatgrass everyone prefers Kamut because its juice is sweeter, more nutritious, and gives a bigger energy kick. I have found it very easy to grow to maturity and reproduce, but don't know whether it would be considered an heirloom.  Unlike hybrids, Kamut doesn't have gluten so is safe for those who are gluten intolerant (often confused with wheat allergy). The book says that a few dozen Kamut wheatberries were rediscovered in one of the great pyramids of Egypt in the 1930's. Kamut wheatberries are three times bigger than hybrid wheat. The drawback to larger wheatberries is you get more breakage [in shipping] and a slightly lower germination rate. It takes more maintenance when growing it as wheatgrass because there is more spoilage and mold from the ungerminated, broken wheatberries. Kamut is the trademarked name for Triticum turgidum spp turanicum."

Heirloom Wheat? - IDigMyGarden Forums

I guess this post explains why hybrid wheats have displaced heirloom wheats in commercial bakeries:  spoilage, mold, lower germination rates.  If you start looking around the blogosphere, you will see people who claim that their wheat traces it heritage back to the ancient Egyptians. 

Sometimes, I wonder if we have just gotten to clever for our own good.  We've tried so hard to get foods that pack and ship well that we've hurt ourselves.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dietary Supplement Warning for Autism and other Developmental Disorders

Various prescription and street drugs may caus...Image via Wikipedia
Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found.  As per the New York Times article on Herbal Supplements, Many contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic(not in toxic levels, but they are still there) as well as pesticide residue.

The GAO report will be out  next week and I will be posting the findings on line. 

If you want to check out the testing for specific supplements go to the Consumer Lab's website.  There is a small fee for subscribing to the website.  Consumer Labs also has recommendations for specific vendors that it has found sufficient quality control (available without charge).  I am lucky that my nutritionist has been really careful about sourcing her vitamins and supplements-- she uses vitacost a lot and specifically recommends certain brands.

This is really important for folks with developmental disorders and mental illness.  Many, many of us are using supplements and vitamins because we wish to avoid side effects from medication or there are no real drugs that treat our condition.  The sad thing is that we could be making ourselves sicker with lead, mercury, pesticides and other neurotoxins.

What I think we will find is that Big Supplement and Big Box Pharma/Nutrtion distributors don't quality control.  Too much is coming from China (yes, China provides a lot of our vitamins sold in supermarkets or chain stores).

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Scientific Link To Autism Identified

Human brain left dissected midsagittal viewImage via Wikipedia
"During its research into the application of neuroscience in business, a New Jersey based think tank, The Center for Modeling Optimal Outcomes, LLC (The Center) made an inadvertent and amazing discovery.

The Center examined the neuroscientific dynamics of logic and emotion in decision making while researching neuroscience in business. They found unique corollary relationships between various brain chemicals (neurohormones, neurotransmitters, etc.). This apparent pattern led to a new path of research for the team outside of business. By looking at extensive scientific literature they discovered a cascade of hormones that emanate from the brain (hypothalamus). This same pattern of correlations was again apparent throughout the cascade. The group added a research biologist and started to test the pattern on genes (proteins). It remained consistent. The Center then called upon advisors from chemistry and physics to see if the pattern would apply in physical sciences."

Scientific Link To Autism Identified

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The Talents of a Middle-Aged Brain

"So what kinds of things does a middle-aged brain do better than a younger brain?

Inductive reasoning and problem solving — the logical use of your brain and actually getting to solutions. We get the gist of an argument better. We’re better at sizing up a situation and reaching a creative solution. They found social expertise peaks in middle age. That’s basically sorting out the world: are you a good guy or a bad guy? Harvard has studied how people make financial judgments. It peaks, and we get the best at it in middle age."
The Talents of a Middle-Aged Brain - Well Blog -

It gives us all a lot of hope.  I find more real confidence in my judgment.  Some things I find that I have been a lot slower at.  I wonder what will happen after the Interactive Metronome (IM) finishes.  IM will improve my processing speed.  So we shall see.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Caged in Chaos

FOR MANY years Vicky Biggs was haunted by the feeling that there was something wrong with her. She fell over a lot. She was useless at games or anything that required physical co-ordination. She had no friends. Yet from the age of 3 she could read fluently and, although her grades at school were often mediocre, she knew that there were many concepts she understood instantly where her peers struggled. “It was very confusing because I knew I was different,” she says. “I knew I was clumsy, a bit antisocial, but the problem areas are very diverse so I was never able to work out what was wrong. It was like having a small volcano sitting inside me. Also, some of my better attributes, like the photographic memory, I assumed everyone had them. The realisation came in fragments.”
Her condition, dyspraxia, was not diagnosed until she was 15, and this was a liberating experience. Not only did she discover that her lack of physical co-ordination puts her in the bottom 1 per cent of the population, but a psychologist told her that her IQ, at 155, is in the top 1 per cent. Suddenly her behaviour made sense because she knew why she struggled to organise the way she moves: her brain isn’t wired like most peoples’ and when it tries to send messages not all of them get through. So she has poor balance and depth perception — she can reach for a door handle and miss, she can’t pour a drink without spilling, or walk upstairs without hanging on to something. She struggles to cross roads because she can’t judge the speed of traffic and, in spite of six years of weekly piano lessons, she has yet to reach Grade 1.  

I have dyspraxia, too... but not as badly as Vicki.  I know what its like to have poor balance and depth perception and what it's like to spill a lot of food and drink (although therapy has cleaned that up).  The Interactive Metronome is going to do a lot for wiring the brain and body back together. 

Matts Hidoeout's site has a lot of good stories and information about dyspraxia.
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It's a Long Way to Tipperary: 15 millisecond Goal

Apparently, a lot of functional behavior doesn't change with the Interactive Metronome until you get down to 15 milliseconds.  I still have a ways to go. 
It's a long way to Tipperary,
It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Tipperary

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How brain hears the sound of silence and CAPD

Raspberry Ruby CocktailImage by Swamibu via Flickr
Could be very important for CAPD especially problems hearing in noisy environments like cocktail parties.

How brain hears the sound of silence: Separate brain pathways process the start and end of what we hear: "The UO team also noted that responses to the end of a sound involved different frequency tuning, duration and amplitude than those involved in processing the start of a sound, findings that agree with a trend cited in at least three other studies in the last decade.

'Being able to perceive when sound stops is very important for speech processing,' Wehr said. 'One of the really hard problems in speech is finding the boundaries between the different parts of words. It is really not well understood how the brain does that.'"

I can attest to this.  I was recently at my college reunion mixer and I had to continually ask people to repeat themselves.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tic Toc and Scratch, Scratch

Cow bell on wooden plank.Image via Wikipedia
I  really improved today at the Interactive Metronome (IM) -- my task averages were in the 50's with the more difficult tasks today.  My difficult tasks are clapping my hands 4 times and then my toes 4 times.  Kind of a disjoint Mexican hat dance!  Also, I have problems tapping my heels backwards on the pad in time to the cow bell.  I was on the beat 30% of the time (up from 5%!).

I still have a ways to go... we want the task averages to be down in the 15% range but good day overall. However, in the middle of IM, I started to get really itchy.  It's hard to stay on the beat when you want to scratch your nose, your neck, your sides, your arms.  Apparently, some itch reflex gets kicked off in the middle of IM as other people have noted similar things. 

 But, IM really kicked my butt... I was tired and there was an accident on the highway so I cut off and went out to eat a nice Indian lunch.  I really wanted to just shut down and be in a low key environment.  So I got some coffee at a local coffee shop for the long drive back home (Therapy is about 1 hour of highway driving from my home).  Got home, scratched myself some more, and went to sleep
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Musical Skills and Children with Auditory Processing Disorder

how O starts every showImage by MMMMichelle via Flickr
This is the first study that systematically assesses musical skills in children with a formal diagnosis of APD (auditory processing disorder)  in the absence of other developmental disorders. The APD group did significantly worse than the control group in judging metre. Musical skills assessment in children with APD may help constrain our understanding of this heterogeneous condition.

Auditory Processing Disorder occurs across a variety of conditions:
Also, A person with APD may have a combination of different auditory processing problems or just one type of processing problem:

Auditory Decoding Deficit

  • Difficulty analyzing the differences between speech sounds
  • Difficulty on tasks that require discriminating or analyzing sounds (such as understanding new vocabulary words or spelling words that are read aloud)
  • Seems not to hear even though hearing is normal
  • Mis-hearing things frequently and not even realizing it until someone else points out the mistake
  • Says "huh" and "what" a lot or asks for repetition even when the person seems to be listening and paying attention to what is said
  • May have difficulty with the following areas because of not "hearing" correctly:
  • Vocabulary development
  • Grammar skills (use of plurals, verb tenses, etc.)
  • Using multiple-meaning words
  • Understanding who, what, where, when and why questions
  • Learning the differences between have been, has been, and had been
  • Reading, spelling and note-taking
  • Marked difficulty hearing when listening situations are less than ideal such as in background noise, rooms with reverberation, or large open areas such as the gym or playground

Auditory Integration Deficit
  •  "Hears" better with the right ear compared to the left ear
  •  May have poor phonics, spelling and writing skills
  •  May have difficulty getting the "big picture" that is necessary to do well in word recognition and spelling
  •  May have trouble using symbols, space or visual imagery
  •  May have poor visual-motor integration
  •  May be poor with the rhythm aspects (pauses, beats) of songs or nursery rhymes
  •  May have difficulty with fine motor skills
  •   As the child grows older and tasks at school and at home become more complex, it takes more work to figure out how to do a task
  • May, in time, start to give up when tasks get hard and exhibit poor listening skills as frustration levels increaseMay exhibit, over time, less and less ability to tolerate distractions

Auditory Associative Deficit

  •   Difficulty applying the rules of language to sounds that are heard
  •   Poor receptive language skills
  •   Low vocabulary for age
  •   May have poor understanding of complex sentences
  •   May have a variety of language difficulties such as any of the following:
  •   Difficulty with categories and labels
  •   Words that have multiple meanings such as "bark" (could be a dog's bark or the bark of a tree)
  •   Antonyms, synonyms and homonyms
  •   Negative questions such as "Why didn't she do that?"
  •   May say "I don't understand" or "I don't know what that means" a lot
  •   May have trouble understanding jokes or riddles with humor based on associations among words
  •   May have trouble understanding common expressions
  •   Phonics may be good but understanding of what is read is usually very poor
  •   May have trouble understanding word problems in math
  •   May have tremendous difficulty learning a foreign language

Auditory Output-Organization Deficit
  •   Trouble organizing, sequencing, recalling and/or expressing an answer
  •   Poor hearing in background noise (auditory figure-ground problems)
  •   May show signs of poor recall such as omitting words on tests, using words that were given on a previous test item, or having more trouble with the words depending upon the order in which they were presented (for example, trouble remembering words at the beginning of a list but not at the end)
  •   Difficulty when answers must be recalled in a specific order
  •   Trouble following directions that are long or have several parts
  •   Difficulty with motor-planning skills
  •   Trouble starting assignments
  •   Trouble remembering homework
  •  Trouble taking notes
  •  Trouble organizing papers and work
  • Speech-language problems may be seen, such as sound blending, expressive language or articulation problems
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Bodily motions influence memory and emotions

A study in body languageImage via Wikipedia
WHEN talking about our feelings, we often use expressions that link emotions with movements or positions in space. If, for example, one receives good news, they might say that their "spirit soared", or that they are feeling "on top of the world". Conversely, negative emotions are associated with downward movements and positions - somebody who is sad is often said to be "down in the dumps", or feeling "low". 
According to a new study published in this month's issue of the journal Cognition, expressions such as these are not merely metaphorical. The research provides evidence of a causal link between motion and emotion, by showing that bodily movements influence the recollection of emotional memories, as well as the speed with which they are recalled. 

An study done by Dijikstra in 2007 found that assuming the body posture associated with a particular experience can aid recall of the memories of that experience. These studies hint at the embodiment of abstract concepts, and suggest that people who use their bodies in different ways also think differently.  This makes sense when you think about kinesthetic modes of learning.

It is not just posture but also the direction of body language that is important.  The direction of the body language affects the speed with which participants recalled  emotional memories.  Memories with positive emotions were recalled significantly more quickly during upward than during downward marble movements, and vice versa for negative memories.  Participants were also likely to recollect a positive experience such as winning an award when they were making upward movements, and a negative experience such as failing a test when making downward movements. 

Memory recollection is facilitated when the context in which recollection occurs matches that in which encoding took place.  Movements which are completely unrelated to the encoding of emotional memories can also influence their retrieval. 

Thinking involves creating mental simulations of bodily experiences, and that knowledge is represented by partial re-enactments in the brain which activate the same systems associated with real experiences.  

This is all very interesting to me as sometimes I think I am more cut off from my body than many other people.  I don't think that I always am quite aware of my body in space due to sensory integration problems.   So all this movement business that the article is talking about is something that I am not aware of.  I could be evoking the same memories as I move through space or not.  As I go through therapy, I wonder how this will change.  The next round of therapy, the Interactive Metronome  will do more wiring in of the body to the mind.   I will be doing more dance after therapy as I expect that I will be able to keep to the beat better. 


Monday, May 24, 2010

Pizza for the Gluten- and Lactose Intolerant

Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margh...Image via Wikipedia
 I was reading an article on home made piazzas and came up with some pointers on low-gluten flour that might help those of us who are gluten-intolerant as opposed to having a full blown gluten allergy.

Mr. Mangieri is unusually candid for a pizzaiolo (most guard the tricks of their trade — understandably, they don’t want to give away the store). Besides employing an overnight rise, he uses a natural starter (instead of yeast) and Italian 00 flour. 

Italian 00 flour is considered “soft” — low in the proteins called glutens that give dough its elasticity, like the flour used in the thin and supple Naples-style pizzas so popular in New York. Only I discovered that things aren’t so simple.

The 00 designation refers to how finely the flour is milled, not the protein content. Some 00 flours are around 7 percent proteins, others are 11 percent or higher. (By comparison, all-purpose flour is around 11 percent.)

While many pizzaioli consider the ideal 00 pizza flour to have 8 to 10 percent protein, there’s no sure way to tell from the bag, although some brands, like King Arthur Flour and Divella, post the percentages on their Web sites.

If you use buffalo mozzarrella which is low in lactose, you might have a winning combination for the lactose intolerant.
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