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Health News You Can Use

1. Gum it up. Chewing sugar-free gum may help people eat less, finds new research from the University of Rhode Island. Chewing gum in the morning led study participants to eat 68 fewer calories at lunch. Chomping gum before and after eating resulted in burning up to 8 percent more calories during the day. An added bonus: Gum chewers reported that they felt less tired and said doing tasks seemed easier. So go ahead and burst some bubbles to help battle the bulge.

2. Watch your sodas. Drinking two or more artificially sweetened diet drinks a day can double your risk of rapid kidney decline later in life, according to a study of 3,000 women by Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston.

3. Give back. If your back's more sore during winter months, it could be you're not getting enough vitamin D, reports a new clinical review in Pain Treatment Topics. One study looked at 360 patients with chronic back pain and found that all of them had low levels of the vitamin. After taking supplements for three months, 95 percent of the patients had improved symptoms. Most adults need at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day, but researchers believe people with chronic back pain may need twice that. Talk to your doctor to see if your aching back can benefit from extra D.

Plus: A Quick Stress Soothing Tip:

Morning tantrums, dinner-table battles, bedtime drama. If your crazy day's making you wonder why you had kids in the first place, take a deep breath and try this stress-zapping exercise from Susan Albers, Psy.D., author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food: Find a quiet spot (lock yourself in a closet if you have to), and freeze. Imagine that you're a human statue and cannot move a muscle. Be very still. Focus only on your breath, on slowly drawing air in and releasing it out, until you feel yourself calming and becoming peaceful.