Diabetes Head to Toe (Book Review)

Diabetes Head to Toe (Book Review)


Do you need a comprehensive reference book about all things diabetes? Pick up a copy of Diabetes Head to Toe (affiliate link) by Rita R. Kalyani, MD, MHS, Mark D. Corriere, MD, Thomas W. Donner, MD, and Michael W. Quartuccio, MD, all of whom are physicians at Johns Hopkins.

Full disclosure: Both Dr. Kalyani and I are members of the DiabetesSisters Board of Directors. I met her for the first time in person last May and we exchanged books. I gave her a copy of The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes and she shared Diabetes Head to Toe with me. We had fun comparing our book writing experiences.

Dr. Kalyani is at the forefront of the movement to educate health care professionals about diabetes language and stigma and her book reflects that. You won’t find any judgments, just a lot of practical information about overcoming denial, educating yourself, and making appropriate lifestyle changes.

What’s Included in Diabetes Head to Toe?

  • Chapter 1: A Quick Overview of Diabetes
  • Chapter 2: Diagnosis, Screening, and Types of Diabetes
  • Chapter 3: General Aspects of Diabetes
  • Chapter 4: Diabetes in Special Populations
  • Chapter 5: Lifestyle and Behavioral Changes in Diabetes
  • Chapter 6: Obesity and Diabetes
  • Chapter 7: Diabetes Complications and Other Conditions Common in Diabetes
  • Chapter 8: An Overview of Treatments for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Chapter 9: Medications Commonly Used to Treat Diabetes
  • Chapter 10: Medications for Conditions Related to Cardiovascular Disease
  • Chapter 11: Diabetes Technology and Equipment
  • Chapter 12: Cutting-Edge and Future Treatments for Diabetes
Diabetes Head to Toe - plate method
The diabetes “plate method” of meal planning recommends that half the meal consist of nonstarchy vegetables, a quarter consist of protein, and a quarter consist of grains or starchy foods. A serving of fruit or dairy can also be added. © 2018 Johns Hopkins University, Art as Applied to Medicine

What You’ll Learn

Diabetes Head to Toe discusses the basics, of course, including differences between Type 1 and Type 2, the importance of blood glucose monitoring, carb counting, the plate method, and treatments.

The bulk of the book (Chapter 7) discusses how diabetes impacts your entire body and goes through each organ and system in great detail. It also covers depression and mental health.

  • Brain: stroke, dementia, and depression
  • Eyes: retinopathy, cataracts, and macular edema
  • Ears: hearing loss
  • Mouth: tooth and gum disease
  • Thyroid: thyroid disease
  • Heart: heart disease, congestive heart failure, hypertension, dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides), and metabolic syndrome
  • Circulation: peripheral arterial disease
  • Lungs: obstructive sleep apnea
  • Stomach, Gut, Liver, and Pancreas: gastroparesis, celiac disease (and Type 1), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and pancreatitis
  • Kidneys: diabetic kidney disease, dialysis, and kidney transplantation
  • Bladder: bladder disorders including urinary incontinence
  • Nerves: peripheral and autonomic neuropathy
  • Feet: amputation, foot ulcers, wound healing, neuroarthropathy (Charcot Joint Disease)
  • Muscle, Skin, and Bones: skin conditions, muscle and joint diseases, osteoporosis, and vitamin D deficiency
  • Cancer and Diabetes: common cancers and pancreatic cancer
  • Anemia, Infections, and Immune System: anemia and infectious diseases
  • Men’s Health: male sexual difficulties, erectile dysfunction, and low testosterone
  • Women’s Health: pregnancy, gestational diabetes, female sexual difficulties, menopausal effects, menstrual cycle effects, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

My Thoughts about Diabetes Head to Toe

  • As someone with both NAFLD and PCOS, I was thrilled to see a discussion of the tie between both conditions and diabetes. Most information you see about either assumes you have that condition and nothing else.
  • I got a bit overwhelmed reading Chapter 7 all in one sitting. Realizing the effects that diabetes can have on all of your body systems can be a little depressing. However, knowledge is power and now I’ll be more vigilant about prevention.
  • Although I try to follow my doctor’s advice, watch my diet, and exercise regularly, there was one time when, no matter what I did, my BGs were not in range. I beat myself up until I found a new endocrinologist who told me it wasn’t my fault. It really struck home when I read “Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and even if you do everything right, you may still need higher doses or more medications over time” in Diabetes Head to Toe.
  • The books contains many anatomical drawings that, as a visual person, I found extremely helpful. For example, the liver is higher up than I realized and it is enormous!
  • I like that there is a short section on complementary and alternative treatments such as meditation, yoga, and supplements like cinnamon and chromium.
  • The appendix contains a helpful table listing all of the diabetes medications currently available in the U.S. Chapter 9 describes each category of drug in great detail.
  • Each section of the book is followed by a highlighted paragraph entitled “What Does It All Mean?” This translates the medical language into plain English. Even if you don’t have time to read the whole book, you’ll learn a lot just by reading the information in the blue boxes.
  • I appreciate the explanations of various lab tests. For example, my doctor always keeps an eye on my ALT and AST liver enzymes, but I never really understood what they were. There is also a good explanation of the various kidney function tests like creatinine, GFR, and albumin.

“Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and even if you do everything right, you may still need higher doses or more medications over time.” – Diabetes Head to Toe

Bottom Line

Diabetes Head to Toe is a book to scan and keep on your bookshelf for future reference when specific things come up during your diabetes journey. All sections of the book will not apply to you personally, but the ones that do will provide valuable insight and guidance. Everyone’s diabetes is different and this book perfectly addresses that fact.



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