Posted on: 13 May, 2020

The Importance of Nutrition in Later Life

We caught up with Jane Clarke, esteemed dietitian and Cordon Bleu chef, boasting more than 30 years of experience in the nutrition industry, to find out more about the importance of nutrition in later life. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Jane.

In the UK, life expectancy has doubled over the last 200 years and now around 16 percent of the population is aged over 65 years. The general principles of healthy eating apply at any age, so we should all try to eat five or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, eat a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and the healthy omega 3 fats found in foods like nuts, oily fish and avocado, and opt for fresh, unprocessed ingredients over pre-prepared meals that can be high in sugar, salt and saturated fats. But there are a few key factors that can maintain or even improve wellbeing in our later years and are vital if we face a health challenge and want to recover well.

Make every mouthful count

You may find that calorie requirement reduces with age – your body needs less fuel generally and some of us become less active as the years go on. But that all changes if you’re unwell – say, if you are recovering from an infection, have an illness that increases your metabolic rate, such as cancer, you are recovering from a wound or an operation, or have difficulties eating. In these situations, you may find that although your body needs more nourishment, you actually have less of an appetite than usual, so you need to ensure that every mouthful has the maximum nutritional value it can. One easy way to do this is to enrich your favourite meals so they can contain more protein and calories – you could add a swirl of cream or yoghurt to a mug of soup, add some grated cheese to mashed potato, add avocado to a salad, or sip a smoothie or one of my nutritionally balanced Nourish Drinks between meals to give you the energy you need to recover.

Top up your vitamin D

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because we synthesise it in our body when sunlight comes into contact with our skin. Not only does the ability to produce vitamin D this way decrease with age, but people in their later years may spend less time outdoors, exacerbating the problem – especially during the current lockdown and social isolation rules. It can lead to a deficiency in this vital nutrient, which is needed to maintain healthy bones and also has an important role in preventing respiratory infections and improving immune response – important factors in your later years, when you may be at greater risk of chest infections, and which could be crucial if you are infected with Covid-19. 


Vitamin D can be found in many delicious foods including oily fish, eggs and dairy products, so ideally include these in your diet. However, older people are also recommended to take a supplement containing 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D daily.

Get your vitamins

Some older people in the UK, have been found to have low intakes of micronutrients – so although they get all the calories they need from their food, it doesn’t necessarily give them the vitamins and minerals they need to stay fit and well. Shopping for fresh produce can be difficult, especially at this time, but don’t worry about needing to find expensive ‘superfoods’ to fill the nutrient gap. I’m a big believer in ordinary, affordable foods that just happen to be nutritional champions and are easily available from corner shops and supermarkets – apples, carrots, beetroot, cabbage and tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals and will bring valuable goodness to your diet.

Keep a food diary

Weight gain and weight loss can become a problem in the later years. It can be easy to think you’ve eaten less than you have, or to miss a meal without noticing. Keeping a food diary can help you track how often you’re really eating (don’t forget to make a note of snacks), see how healthy your choices are, and spot the emotional triggers around your eating – loneliness or the habit of eating in front of the TV, for example. Keep your diary for at least two weeks, then with the information to hand, you can tweak your eating, so you feel stronger, fitter and more resilient.

Enjoy your mealtimes

If we live alone, eat less than we used to, or perhaps have a health condition that means our sense of taste is impaired, we might not make the effort to cook a ‘proper’ meal. But the occasional supper of cheese and crackers can soon become a habit and mean you miss out on not just the nutritional value of freshly prepared meals but the sensory pleasure of enjoying a favourite dish. Whether you’re cooking for one or eating with your partner or family, try to make at least two or three meals a week ‘occasions’ to look forward to. Finding the recipe, shopping for ingredients, setting the table, then focusing on the taste and textures of the food you have prepared all enhance the experience.

Thank you again for sharing this with us, Jane. The Nourish team also have a wonderful offer available at the moment; if you are a resident of a care home or ordering for a resident, during the month of May Nourish will double your order and gift the extra drinks to other residents and staff*.


Simply supply the necessary details when you make your purchase and the team will match the amount. The care home can then distribute the drinks to other residents, or the staff may even want to enjoy them as an energy-boosting and healthy snack as they go about their essential work.

Find out more at



*T&Cs apply: Care Home Order Match valid until end of May
Minimum order, one box of 4 x Nourish Drinks
Maximum order, 10 packs per customer (equivalent 20 packs for delivery)
Orders must be addressed to a registered care home
Please add a message to your order to confirm that you wish to take part in the offer.

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