Hair colouring has been practised by both men and women since the days of the Pharaohs. Primarily it is used Co conceal the onset of greying, but with the development of more sophisticated and simpler techniques the changing of hair colour has become a pursuit of fashion. Originally vegetable dyes such as henna and camomile were mainly used. These were certainly safer than, if not quite as effective as, the newer products. Metallic dyes, sometimes known as ‘colour restorers’, are mainly used by men to gradually dye grey hair. These dyes are usually made from the salts of lead (resulting in a black colour) or bismuth (resulting in a brown colour). With frequent applications, they gradually change the hair colour. They are relatively easy and safe to use.

The hair dyes most commonly used by women today are the synthetic organic dyes. There are three main types available. The temporary ones simply coat the hair shaft with pigment, without penetrating it. They are usually applied as a rinse, and may be removed by shampooing. Semi-permanent dyes are the most popular. These penetrate the hair shaft, without drastic pre-treatment, and persist tot six to ten shampoos. They are mainly nitro or azo dyes. The permanent, or oxidative, dyes are mainly para-phenylenediamine mixed with hydrogen peroxide. Their main disadvantage is that a significant proportion of people are allergic to them, and there is some as yet unconfirmed evidence that they may produce cancer in some experimental animals.



It’s fairly easy to give a meal a low G.I. twist through dessert. This is because so many of the basic components of dessert, like fruit and dairy products have a low G.I. factor.

In discussions with people about what they eat these days, dessert is seldom mentioned. With busier lifestyles and concerns about overweight, dessert is conveniently missed. While this appears a positive change in eliminating unnecessary kilojoules from the diet there is a negative side. In many instances desserts can make a valuable contribution to our daily calcium and vitamin C intake because they are frequently based on dairy foods and fruits. What’s more, desserts are usually carbohydrate rich which means they help top-up our satiety centre, signifying the completion of eating.

The basis of a perfect dessert—low G.I. fruits and dairy foods.

Citrus. A winter fruit which is an excellent source of vitamin C. Select heavy fruit with fine textured glossy skin. Oranges are good as a snack cut into quarters and frozen. Soak segments of a variety of citrus fruit in orange juice with a slurp of brandy, scatter with raisins or sultanas and serve as winter fruit salad.

Cherries. A true summer fruit Choose plump fruit, bright red/black colour on fresh green stems. A bowl of cherries on the table is a lovely dessert to share.

Stone fruits. Apricots appear earliest in the season. Choose those with as much golden orange colour, avoiding pale or green fruit. Peaches and nectarines should be just beginning to soften. Fresh sliced peaches or nectarines are delicious with ice cream or yoghurt. Sprinkle fresh peach halves with cinnamon and try them lightly grilled.

Pears and apples. At their peak during autumn and winter, but are available all year. Preparation simply involves washing and slicing and they provide the perfect finish to a meal.

Grapes. One of the most popular fruits with children because they are so sweet and easy to eat. Grapes do not ripen after harvest so choose bunches with a deep, uniform colour on fresh green sterna. Put a bowl on the table after a meal or include them in a fruit salad.

Custard, ice cream and yoghurt. Look far low-tat varieties for a cool and creamy treat



Technological developments in the area have led to a number of different machines now being available for directly or indirectly measuring body fatness. Some of these are extremely expensive and would not be used in the normal day-to-day counseling situation. Others are now becoming more portable and more accessible and provide at least an opportunity for adding to other measures. The current range of machines include: underwater weighing, bio-impedance analysis, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, etc.

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). In 1987 the first commercially available dual energy X-ray absorptiometer (DEXA) was designed to measure the bone mineral content of the skeleton, especially at the spine, hips and wrist because they are common sites for osteoporosis. The machines, however, can accurately measure three body components (bone, fat and lean body tissue) both regionally and for the whole body and are now common in most hospitals. The method enables measurement of total fat as well as regional body composition. They use a very low dose of X-ray and scan a person in 20-40 minutes. DEXA is taking over from underwater weighing as the validation standard in fat measurement and body fat research, largely because of its accuracy, comparative ease of use, and widespread availability.




Did you know your child was lucky enough to own his own computer? What is more, he can also operate it! How’s that for competence, without any formal training, and without having to purchase anything?

In fact, his computer was given to him by you at birth. What is more, it will last him for the rest of his life, and it will keep working, year in and year out, until he dies from old age. It is the human brain. This wondrous bit of machinery, plus the electrical hook-up that goes with it, forms the nervous and muscular system of the body.

The computer is carefully locked up in a strong-room; its walls are made of solid bone, which is almost as strong as concrete. This is aimed at protecting it from injury throughout life.

From the lower back part, a thick tail extends downwards, through a canal formed by adjoining holes in the bones that make up the backbone, or spinal column. This thick, rope-like structure is called the spinal cord. As it descends down the back, it becomes gradually thinner. At regular intervals, where the vertebral bones join each other, a nerve is given off from the main cord. This tracks out and divides into many smaller divisions. Each goes to a certain part of the body or to a group of muscles.

In the head region, these are called the cranial nerves. At the level of the arms, large ones are given off and these supply the upper limbs. Lower down, huge nerves branch off to form the giant sciatic nerve which supplies the lower limbs.

All activities must start somewhere, and the beginning is the brain. Here, ideas are quickly translated into messages that are instantly conveyed to the appropriate part of the brain. Electrical impulses are then sent to the muscles concerned; the muscles contract and movement takes place. All this can happen with the speed of lightning.

The body is very fussy that the brain system be kept clean and free from germs or injury. For this reason it is covered with a thin sheet of tissue called the meninges—an important protective layer. Also, the brain is bathed in fluid called cerebro-spinal fluid. This helps protect it from sudden jarring movements which could otherwise damage it.

The entire spinal cord is made up of microscopic strands which commence in the brain and end in various muscles and organs of the body. (It is very similar to telephone cables which carry thousands of individual wires that extend from the exchange to a person’s telephone in the home. Each is capable of carrying an enormous number of messages, and the exchange knows exactly where the individual messages are headed for.)

The telephone system

But just as things can go wrong with the telephone system, so disorders may occur in the nerves. The brain itself may become diseased, as germs penetrate the coverings and produce brain damage that may be serious or even life-threatening. Also, the insulating material of the nerves may become impaired or diseased, causing short-circuits. This is represented by certain so-called demyelinating disorders.

Sometimes the brain is damaged before birth, and severe defects may occur, such as spina bifida or hydrocephalus. The electrical system of the brain may be defective, causing epilepsy. These disorders may occur before birth. Some develop afterwards, and indeed some may take place at any time during life.

Nerves frequently extend to muscles. Each muscle is made up of millions of tiny individual fibres, and each has a nerve attached to it. If an electrical impulse reaches the muscle, it causes it to contract or shorten. When thousands of these act together, it makes the entire muscle shorten, and in this way movement is possible. By shortening the muscles of the arm, for example, we can bend the arm, the hand, or the fingers. Impulses from the brain can be sent to other groups of muscles in the body at the same time. This is how we are capable of moving about and performing normal activities.

But just as the nerves can be diseased for various reasons, so the muscle fibres may suffer from various defects. Fortunately they are not very common in infancy and childhood.

Some nervous system disorders are common in infancy, but most are fairly uncommon. Convulsions during a fever are frequent, and epilepsy is also fairly common. Developmental anomalies are rarely seen by family doctors.

We will discuss some of the more probable disorders so that you may recognise them. At all times, any suspected abnormality of the brain or nervous system should prompt quick medical attention from the doctor. Today, many serious disorders may be successfully treated. The sooner this commences, the better.



This is one of those horrid diseases of yesteryear. At one time a terrible killer in the community, it is now rarely seen. However, cases do pop up from time to time, but the disease is totally preventable and these should never take place.

The disease is produced by an organism called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. It is readily sneezed or coughed around from the throat of a patient or a carrier of the disease. The organism tends to resist drying, so may land on articles belonging to others and be transferred in this simple manner.

The usual starting point is a mild sore throat, plus a moderate fever anywhere from 38.5 to 39.0°C (101 to 102°F). Very quickly the patient shows signs of toxicity, especially prostration. A dirty grey-green layer of material forms on the tonsils and the sides and back of the throat. There may be a nasal discharge, which is extremely infectious. The voice may become hoarse and a croupy cough develop. This is a sinister sign. Swelling in the internal respiratory tract occurs, toxins are absorbed by the system, and very soon the child becomes extremely ill.

Serious and sinister complications may occur. The powerful toxins are rapidly spread throughout the system and may adversely affect the heart, the nerves (especially those involving the eyes), the pharynx and the breathing apparatus. Muscle groups may also be affected, and this may lead to partial paralysis. Pneumonia is also a serious complication.


Although not often seen in Australia (or in most Western countries) these days, diphtheria still occurs in sporadic cases which usually make headline news. However, the only reason why its incidence is low is because of the massive immunization campaigns that have been carried on for many years. Unless a high proportion of the infant population is continually immunized, then the disease could readily become re-established as a major killer of children.

Active immunization is recommended to start at the age of two months in Australian babies. This comes with the full backing of all state governments, as well as all doctors throughout the land. (Refer to the section on immunization earlier in this chapter for details. Parents (especially parents of a new baby) are urged to follow the advice offered.)

Diphtheria is a totally preventable disease, and it is up to parents to use their common sense in arranging immunization. Persons migrating to Australia from other countries, who may not have had their children immunized, are urged to do so without further delay. See your own family doctor, or visit the local hospital. Baby health clinics can also give you full advice.

Treatment of diphtheria requires hospitalization. Prompt medical attention, either from your own doctor or from the hospital, will help make the diagnosis, and after this skilled treatment by persons expert in the field is essential. The mortality rate is very high. The longer cases are left, the more perilous the outcome.