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Business helps teen gain ground against Crohn's disease

Published August 10, 2011 9:21 am

Crohn's disease • Maximizing calories and nutrients becomes key.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

While most customers drop by James Gustason's Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Bountiful to find weight-loss and body-building boosters, Yvette Jones visits to help her son conquer Crohn's disease.

Garrett Jones, now 17 and starting his senior year at Bountiful High School, has struggled with symptoms of the autoimmune disease for four years even though the official diagnosis did not come until early last year.

"We kept going to doctors" who blamed his intestinal troubles on parasites, Yvette Jones said. "Finally, I'd had enough. The kid looked like a walking skeleton — thin and white like a ghost."

The worried mom booked an appointment with a gastroenterologist. A subsequent colonoscopy detected the disease.

And from that point, Yvette Jones delved into various medical and homeopathic remedies that could assist her son in his day-to-day quest to rebound and thrive.

The chronic disease inflames the lower gastrointestinal tract, preventing absorption of nutrients and causing diarrhea, cramps, fever and rectal bleeding, according to http://www.livingwithcrohnsdisease.com.

For six months, the young man's severe symptoms were treated with Prednisone. Garrett Jones also continues to take an anti-inflammatory drug called Azathioprine. But his mother is driven by the continued need to infuse nutrients and calories into his slender body.

"We have him eating every two hours," Yvette Jones said. That regimen includes high-calorie meals along with protein powders and dietary supplements.

The routine may be paying off. Garrett Jones, who plays kicker on his school's football team and loves to snowboard and wakeboard, has now increased his weight from 110 to 140 pounds and grown two inches in height to 5 feet 9 inches.

However, a recent bone-density test indicated he still lags about two years behind in skeletal growth, his mother said, and she plans to add growth hormones to the regimen.

While insurance covers some charges, Yvette Jones anticipates outstanding costs of about $30,000 annually over the next four years. Gustason said he hopes to raise funds this weekend to help the family meet those obligations.

"We're not allowed to diagnose or treat," Gustason said. "But what we've found is that a few of our supplements have helped him absorb nutrients better than others."

Gustason opened the Bountiful franchise in March with his wife, Becky Gustason, and partner, Rocky Catenzaro.

Saturday's grand opening gala from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. will feature "Biggest Losers" Justin Pope and Deni Hill, along with a rock-climbing wall provided by the Army National Guard, a mechanical bull, a bounce house for kids and a raffle for prizes donated by area merchants.

From time to time, Gustason seeks the advice of Rachel Jones, a registered dietitian and nutrition professor at the University of Utah.

Now 44, Rachel Jones — no relation to Yvette and Garrett Jones — discovered in her early 20s that she had Crohn's disease. Then the mother of a toddler, she had no energy, suffered severe abdominal pain and battled weight and blood loss.

"They said it looked like someone had slashed my inner intestines with a razor blade," she said. "Doctors told me I'd be on a lifetime of steroids."

Side effects from prescribed drugs immediately convinced her to seek natural alternatives, she said.

Two decades later, Rachel Jones has five children and a passion for participating in extreme sports. Her last colonoscopy was clear, she added, showing no signs that the disease was impacting her life.

"I decided I would try my hand at what my professors had taught me," Rachel Jones said. "Nutrition can really change your life — you can make better decisions and have better opportunities."

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck —

Bountiful grand opening doubles as fundraiser

Max Muscle Sports Nutrition, 416 W. 500 South, is hosting a gala from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday to increase awareness about Crohn's disease and also to raise funds for the family of 17-year-old Garrett Jones, who battles the chronic disease.

For more information about Crohn's disease or to donate to Crohn's research , visit ccfa.org.