Sep 29, 2022

Actimel Immunity Report 2022

A change is as good as a rest – or is it?

Hopefully you’ll have had some time to get away this summer, kick back over the bank holidays, or make the most of a staycation or two. And whether you used that time to rest and recuperate or get out and about, it’s likely that your regular routines flew out of the window. This is of course perfectly understandable. When we’re freed from our usual commitments, we can let loose a little – perhaps go to bed later, sleep in sometimes, give the gym a miss and deviate from our daily diets.

This can feel fun and much needed, but it isn’t sustainable long-term. Our bodies are governed by a series of 24-hour cycles that run in the background, carrying out essential functions and processes1. The cycles are regulated by our biological – or body – clocks and, as we all know, clocks and routine go hand-in-hand! 

A return to routine

While the sleep-wake cycle is one of the better-known biological cycles, our 24-hour internal clocks play many vital roles1. The science is still evolving in this area, but research has connected this to metabolism and weight through the control of blood sugar and cholesterol, to mental wellbeing, and – crucially - to the regulation of our immune systems1. Indeed, some studies have shown that when our rhythms are thrown off, we become more vulnerable to disease2. Effectively, our bodies rely on regime. So, it follows, that it can affect productivity and overall health. But how? This report aims to show us… 

1 Angellica Bell has been a television and radio presenter for over 20 years. Starting her career on Children’s BBC, she is now a regular fixture on primetime TV. Co-presenter of the award-winning financial programme, The Martin Lewis Money Show (ITV), regular contributor on The One Show (BBC1), and winner of 2017 Celebrity MasterChef (BBC1), Angellica is also a published author, with a popular children’s cookery book under her belt. She is a self-confessed health enthusiast who is passionate about keeping fit and maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
12 Leading immunologist and author, Dr. Jenna Macciochi, PhD, is on a mission to unravel the science around the immune system, helping people to decode exactly what it takes to be well in the modern-day. With over 20 years’ experience in researching the impact of diet and lifestyle on the immune system, her curiosity about the human body has deepened the understanding of how we eat and live, and its effect on health and wellbeing.

Actimel Immunity Report 2022: Findings

The Actimel Immunity Study analysed self-reported findings from 2,000 people from different areas of the UK across five different factors known to directly affect immunity - including diet, physical activity, stress levels, and alcohol intake - to see what affect our lifestyles have on our immune systems. Here, Dr Jenna walks us through the study’s key take-outs:

The nation’s attitude towards health and wellness

Nearly three quarters (69%) of the nation reportedly don’t think they have strong immunity, with results also showing that levels of immunity vary substantially across the UK – with Yorkshire and the Humber coming out on top and the North East taking last place.


The change in season gives us impetus to build immunity, as nearly half of Brits (47%) believe that the weather has a negative impact on their health, and over a quarter (28%) fear that there are more germs on the commute. Close to a third of parents (30%) worry they are going to get sick with children returning to school.

Although almost 70% of us don’t feel our immune system is up to scratch, Dr Jenna found some good news within the report:

“The majority (80% of the survey participants) self-reported mostly having good immunity and getting ill infrequently.” She goes on to advise, “It’s quite normal to catch 2-3 minor infections per year.  An increase in the frequency or persistence of these, [however,] can be a sign that your immune system is not functioning correctly, and [in those instances it is worth seeking advice from a] doctor. [It is also worth noting that most if not all of us will need to put in some extra work] to prepare for the change in season and health challenges [associated with] Autumn/Winter.”  - Dr. Jenna Macciochi

Slipping standards over summer

Research shows that 18% have let their diets slip over summer and 19% have forgotten to take health supplements. While the survey data show that around one in five of us feel we can comfortably relax our routines over the summer months, over a third (34%) of Brits believe that making positive lifestyle changes to support immunity is important. Unfortunately, over a fifth (22%) of us don’t know how to do so, and 18% of us feel too busy to spend time on a health-focussed routine.


“One of the most significant findings [for me] is that [respondents report] life can feel more stressful during the summer. This likely reflects a lack of routine, as people tend to take holidays and engage in different social activities during this time. As we move into Autumn/Winter, it’s normal to want to move [back] towards healthier routines to give health a boost and support a well-functioning immune system. Making health-related behavioural changes is not a simple, linear process. [But small steps can help, such as] ensuring enough daily vitamin D and consuming fortified products and immune-supporting products that contain probiotics and live cultures.”  Dr. Jenna Macciochi

Alcohol consumption

When it comes to alcohol, 40% of Londoners have a higher-than-average weekly alcohol intake compared to the average adult (9 units), followed by those in the South West (10 units). In comparison, the North West (7.4) and Midlands (8.1) drink the least.


Dr Jenna highlighted that “increased alcohol consumption and disrupted sleep were the most significant health disrupting factors respondents experienced during summer and explained that the two factors are likely interrelated since alcohol is a known sleep disrupter.”

This may feel counter-intuitive, but while alcoholic drinks can make us feel drowsy, they can interfere with the quality and quantity of our sleep, causing night sweats, frequent awakenings and even nightmares particularly when consumed just before bedtime.3 Experts therefore advise leaving at least four hours between drinking alcohol and going to bed.3

Food and diet

Across the nation, the report showed over three-quarters (77%) try to follow the NHS recommended healthy balanced diet.


However, 14% of people admitted to only eating fruit or vegetables once a week, with more indulging in a sweet treat multiple times a week (43%), and over a third admit to regularly snacking at night (39%). The study also found that 18% have at least five to six processed meals every week. 

“Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and a healthy immune system. Providing we follow a healthy balanced dietary pattern; it can be possible to consume most nutrients from food. Vitamin D, however, is different. It comes largely from sun exposure. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement would be a proactive way to support immunity amidst the higher risk of viruses in winter.”  - Dr. Jenna Macciochi

Leading us rather nicely into… 

Vitamins and supplements

19% admit to forgetting to take supplements over the summer, and almost a quarter (22%) have never taken vitamin supplements, this is despite 31% stating that supplements and fortified products, such as Actimel* yogurt drinks, are important in maintaining a healthy routine and supporting immunity.


In line with this, we looked at the importance of Vitamin D when it comes to supporting our immunity. Another important vitamin is B6. It aids chemical reactions within the immune system, supporting its function,iv and it helps reduce tiredness and fatiguev – complaints commonly associated with the long nights and cold weather typical of British winters. It is found in foods such egg yolk, meat, poultry, fish and some fortified yogurt drinks.  

“As the seasons change, eating or drinking immune-supporting products were reported as one of the most popular health-based behaviour changes by our survey respondents.” Dr. Jenna Macciochi

Exercise, sleep and stress

Over the summer, 19% admit to lapsing in exercising regularly, but 25% want to exercise as seasons change to help improve their health. What’s more, 23% want to increase sleep, as 28 per cent cite having different sleeping patterns during the warmer months.


The study shows that people in the South East are the most likely to never exercise, while those in the North West are the least stressed, with 14% (against an average of 9%) stating they feel under pressure less than once a week. 

The figures also tell us that just one third of people manage physical activity in line with NHS guidelines, and that when it comes to being under pressure, those without children are more than twice as likely to feel stress-free (17%) compared to parents (8%). Only 14% consume probiotics and live cultures.

“Exercise has a trickle-down effect of helping [us] sleep better. Stress [on the other hand] is detrimental to sleep and [also impacts] other health-related behaviours [such as] eating patterns. While [short bursts of] stress can briefly enhance our immune system (preparing us for injury or infection), a prolonged lack of sleep is associated with a lower immune response.” Dr. Jenna Macciochi

Top tips for supporting your immunity

So, now we’ve looked at the value of routine, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle in the context of immunity, Dr. Jenna is going to walk us through her top tips for fostering some of the beneficial behavioural changes mentioned above. 

1. Prioritise sleep


2. Supplement sensibly


3. Eat the rainbow


4. Move more


5. Manage stress


6. Limit ultra-processed foods (UPFs)


“September onwards is an important time to support your immune system in preparing for winter – and my top five tips show how even small changes built into routines can make a big difference, day in, day out.” - Angellica Bell

1) Healthy & Hearty Breakfast

It’s important for me to start the day with a healthy and filling breakfast, supporting my energy levels as I power through a busy day. My go-tos are porridge with flax seeds and berries, or scrambled eggs on toast – both are classics for a reason, and perfect for the colder weather as we move into Autumn / Winter.

2) Immune Supporting Shot

A shot of Actimel is another key part of my morning routine, containing vitamins D and B6 which help support the normal function of the immune system*, it leaves me feeling ready to take on the day. My favourite flavours are coconut and multifruit, a delicious blend of pineapple, peach, orange, and strawberry. 

3) Regular Exercise

I aim to exercise up to four times per week, doing a mix of weights, running, cycling and squash. My favourite feel good exercise is running outdoors, it’s so important to get fresh-air, and I love the endorphin rush it gives me – even as the weather gets colder. To stay motivated, variety is key, so I also like to mix it up by combining solo-exercise alongside fitness classes with friends. Another top tip is to go early, it makes sure I don’t run out of time, while setting me up for the day ahead. 

4) Balanced Dinner

After cooking a balanced dinner of protein and veg – I love sweet potato as it’s so versatile! – I relax into the evening by chatting with my family or listening to music as I prep for tomorrow.  

5) Optimising Sleep

Sleep is vital for feeling good and supporting immunity, so I aim to head to bed at 7:30pm three times a week. Early I know but settling into bed curled up with a good book really works wonders to winddown for a restful night’s sleep. I aim for around 8-9h a night to feel fresh and ready to take on the day.

In summary

The Actimel Immunity Report highlights that a huge majority of Brits don’t feel their immunity is as strong as it could be, with people especially worried as winter is approaching. However, as we have seen, it is possible to take small proactive steps to support it. By improving our sleep quality and quantity, movement levels and diets, we can significantly support our health and immunity at a time of year when it matters most!

“This new research shows that people across the UK want to give their immune systems some support as the seasons change but aren’t sure how to do so. Diet is a great place to start – we have seen that the nation isn’t getting their daily intake of vitamins D (30%) and B6 (35%) needed for immune support, so simply adding a fortified yogurt drink such as Actimel* or a supplement into your routine is a quick and easy way to help support immunity resilience.”  - Tom Hickton, Category Director


Data conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Actimel between 19th and 25th August 2022, polling 2,000 adults aged 18+ across the UK.  


From the data available we can only draw correlations between the surveyed lifestyle factors and self-reported perception of immune function.  Causative assumptions (i.e., that a lifestyle factor such as poor sleep directly causes someone to be more susceptible to lower immune function) cannot be drawn. 


  2. Logan RW, McClung CA. Rhythms of life: circadian disruption and brain disorders across the lifespan. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2019 Jan;20(1):49-65.
  3. Very Well Health. Sleep Disorders. 2022. Available at: [Last accessed September 2022]
  4. WebMD. Health Benefits of Vitamin B6. 2020. Available at: [Last accessed September 2022]
  5. Healthline. 9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B6 Deficiency. 2018. Available at: [Last accessed September 2022]

* Actimel contains Vitamins D and B6 which help support the normal function of the immune system

** For the purposes of this report, processed meals include any of the following:

  • Microwaved meals or ready meals
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Cheese
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Bread
  • Savoury snacks such as crisps, sausage rolls, pies and pastries
  • Meat products such as bacon, sausage, ham, salami and paté
  • Cakes and biscuits


*Actimel Core, Plus, Dairy Free & 00 range contain Vitamins D and B6 to help support the normal function of the immune system. Actimel kids contains vitamin D to support the normal function of the immune system in children. **Actimel 0% Fat 0% Added Sugars : No added sugars, contains naturally occurring sugars. ***Except for Actimel Kids range. ****Vitamin B6 contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism. △RI: Reference intake of an average adult (8400 KJ/2000 Kcal) (as per Food Information Regulations). Enjoy as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.