Sandria M. Washington -Blackdoctor.org
Madison Cowan’s culinary artistry has ignited the palates of notable celebrities like Halle Berry, Mos Def and former President Bill Clinton, as well as won him top honors on hit television shows like the Food Network’s “Chopped” where he became the first ever Grand Champion in 2010. It’s safe to say he knows more than a thing or two about making good food, but these days, much of his focus is on sharing the benefits of foods that are good for you – particularly your brain.
Alzheimer’s disease, which African Americans are twice as likely to develop late onset, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is an illness that’s very personal to him, taking the lives of his father and well as his wife’s father. “It’s really, really impacted and hit our family hard,” said Cowan in an interview with BlackDoctor.org. With the exposure that he’s had, he feels he was “chosen by a higher power” to advocate for this cause.
As an ambassador for The Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter, Cowan – who many years ago was hungry and on the street homeless in both Paris and in New York – is invested in helping to find a cure for the dementia-related disease and educating people globally on the food-mind-body connection.
Back in the day, En Vogue said in a song, “Free our mind and the rest will follow.” Today, according to Cowan, it’s more like, “feed your body and the brain just may follow. They go hand-in-hand. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, things like that. They all have connections to problems with health.”
Although Cowan’s gift and love of cooking are steeped in southern Alabama roots from his stepmother’s training as a child, when it comes to “brain food,” one diet in particular that Cowan references is the popular Mediterranean Diet. Incorporating more things like fresh herbs and spices, olive oil and lean oily fish into your daily diet is imperative for brain health, said Cowan.
But, it doesn’t just stop with food for a healthy mind. Every morning Cowan rises at 5 a.m. to practice yoga, followed by cardio outdoors jumping one thousand turns with a weighted jump rope. His weekends are typically set aside for family time, with Saturday night being Game Night. Playing the memory game with cards with his daughter is another way he keeps his brain sharp, as well as teaches her early about healthy habits.